James Wells is stepping down as chief executive officer of SunTrust Banks (STI) in December, and William Rogers, the company's current chief operating officer, will replace him. Wells is retiring after a four-year tenure as CEO. He was appointed chairman in 2009. SunTrust is one of the nation's top ten mortgage originators and servicers in terms of volume. Rogers has held several increasingly senior positions during his time at SunTrust. He was named executive vice president and president of the Atlanta-based bank in 2008. Rogers became operating chief in November. Although Wells is retiring in December, the transition period is expected to end June 1. Douglas Ivester, lead director of the SunTrust board, said the changes significantly benefit SunTrust clients, shareholders and communities. "Under (Wells') leadership, SunTrust has emerged from the extraordinary economic challenges of the past several years as a stronger and more capable company — well positioned as a leader in today's dynamic financial services industry." Ivester said. "Bill Rogers has partnered with him in the introduction of a variety of new products, service improvement initiatives and growth strategies, and brings similarly robust banking experience, company knowledge and industry expertise to his new role." In March, the bank appointed Jerome Lienhard as chief executive officer of SunTrust Mortgage. Lienhard has been with SunTrust five years. SunTrust earned $38 million, or 8 cents a share, in the first quarter, as credit quality continued to improve. The firm reported Thursday it also completed its repayment to the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Write to Christine Ricciardi. Follow her on Twitter @HWnewbieCR. Disclosure: The author holds no relevant investments.