Who is John A. Allison IV

John A. Alison IV is a North Carolina native who served in several leadership roles, including CEO, of the BB&T Corporation between 1987 and his retirement in 2010. He has been active in in support of libertarian issues, serving as President and CEO of the Cato Institute from 2012 to 2015. In 2010, the Harvard Business Review named him one of the 100 most successful CEOs of the previous decade.


John A. Allison IV joined BB&T in 1971. The bank was founded in 1872 in North Carolina and had operated as a local and regional bank, offering insurance and mortgage products alongside traditional banking services. This diversity of products helped BB&T survive the Great Depression and World War II. Allison began his career at BB&T as a small business lender and his success allowed him to climb to the role of chief executive officer in 1989.

During his time as CEO, BB&T grew from $4.5 billion to $152 billion in assets.  This growth resulted from Allison’s strategy of expansion through acquisition, starting with a series of other regional banks in the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States in the early 1990s. BB&T built on this expansion with acquisitions of insurance carriers and mid-sized banks beyond its regional base. In 2008, the bank participated in the U.S. Treasury’s Troubled Assets Relief Program by selling $3.1 billion in preferred stock to the federal government. BB&T purchased those shares back from the Treasury in 2009. Allison retired as CEO in 2008.

John A. Allison IV was born in 1948 and graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1971. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Duke University in 1974. Allison is member of the board of visitors at Wake Forest University and the University of North Carolina.

John A. Allison’s Ideological Activism

During his banking career, Allison developed a dim view of governmental regulation of the financial services industry. Specifically, he has been critical of what he sees as over-regulation of small business lending and the regulators’ bias toward large financial institutions. He has written several books on the subject, including "The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism Is the World Economy’s Only Hope" in 2012. He has been a financial supporter of the Ayn Rand Institute and the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, D.C. Allison served as the president and CEO of Cato from 2012 to 2015.