Five Questions With: Ronald S. Ohsberg

Ronald S. Ohsberg is senior executive president and treasurer of Washington Trust Bancorp Inc. Ohsberg is currently transitioning into the new role of chief financial officer at the Westerly-based parent of The Washington Trust Co.

He talks with Providence Business News about his predecessor, David V. Devault, who is retiring next year, and how he’s going to transition and grow as the bank’s new CFO.

PBN: With David Devault moving into retirement, and you moving into the role of CFO, do you feel like you have big shoes to fill? Why or why not?

OHSBERG: Absolutely. Dave has been instrumental to the success of the bank during his 31-year tenure here. He has played a key role in the bank’s expansion from its South County roots into central and northern Rhode Island and the buildout of its wealth-management and mortgage businesses. There are a several things I will benefit from coming in. First is how well-run the finance division is. There is a very strong team in place and that will certainly be very helpful to me. Second, the bank itself is in great shape. Finally, the bank has a long history of thoughtful succession planning that has helped maintain our strategy and produce consistently strong results. As part of this, Dave and I have worked very well together to make this transition as smooth and successful as possible.

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PBN: What goals have you made for yourself?

OHSBERG: My goals within the treasury function have been traditional, focusing on managing the balance sheet and assessing the profitability contributions from each of our business lines. More broadly, I am focused on building relationships with management and staff and learning as much as possible about how our diverse business lines operate.

PBN: How about for the company?

OHSBERG: The bank has been very successful over a long period, with a proven business strategy. We have a strong banking franchise supplemented by our wealth-management and mortgage businesses, which have provided a remarkable level of fee income and earnings diversity for a bank our size. I will be working closely with Ned Handy and Mark Gim to continue to execute that strategy and find ways to build upon it. Ultimately, my goal as CFO is to make the bank as valuable as possible for our shareholders.

PBN: As the bank’s current treasurer, you’re no stranger to the balance sheet. But as CFO, you’re bound to play a bigger role on the financial reporting and investor relations side of the business. How are you feeling about that?

OHSBERG: My prior experience has been fairly balanced between accounting and financial reporting, and finance-treasury roles, with an emphasis on the former. In that regard, I believe I am well-positioned in those areas. With regard to investor relations, I worked closely with IR teams in my prior public company roles and have been directly involved in these activities at Washington Trust. As CFO it will be a new challenge for me to manage all of these responsibilities at once, but I believe my background and experience have prepared me well, and I have a great team around me.

PBN: Generally speaking, how are you feeling about the bank’s financial well-being now and in the future?

OHSBERG: The future of Washington Trust is very bright. We have a strong senior leadership team and a great corporate culture. As a newcomer, one of the things I find so impressive is the bank’s ability to deliver consistently strong shareholder returns over a long period of time. I’m really excited to be a part of it.

Eli Sherman is a PBN staff writer. Email him at, or follow him on Twitter @Eli_Sherman.