Inside the Stagecoach
January 7, 2019

Wells Fargo CEO: We’re proud of our progress

CEO Tim Sloan responds to an editorial published by the Charlotte Observer.

Nota del editor:  También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.

Editor’s note: Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan sent the following message to team members in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area on Sunday, Jan. 6, sharing his perspective on a recent Charlotte Observer editorial. He also responded directly to the newspaper.

I am writing the Charlotte team today to share my perspective on the Charlotte Observer’s recent editorial characterizing Wells Fargo as an “embarrassment” to Charlotte. That is neither fair nor accurate. In fact, I see it very differently: The work you do to serve our customers and the Charlotte region make Wells Fargo a great benefit to your community. And our team in Charlotte is a source of great pride to the company.

CEO Tim Sloan wears a black suit with a red tie.
CEO Tim Sloan

I have responded to the newspaper directly (see below) and expect my comments to appear in the paper soon. In the meantime, I encourage you to continue taking pride in the Wells Fargo you and I know and live every day. Here are some facts to bear in mind:

  • Wells Fargo employs 25,500 hardworking and dedicated team members in this region. You are terrific!
  • Your efforts provide essential services and advice that individuals, families, and businesses all value, helping them to succeed financially. For example, as of June 2018, Wells Fargo has more than 15,000 small business loans in North Carolina, extending more than $781 million in credit, and 30,376 home mortgage loans — including those for low- and moderate-income families and individuals — totaling more than $7 billion. We also have $31.6 billion in deposits in the state.
  • Charlotte-area team members showed where your hearts are by volunteering nearly 180,000 hours with nonprofits in 2017, the latest year for which we have complete data.
  • Charlotte team members pledged $12 million to support local causes during the 2018 Community Support Campaign and serve on boards for nearly 300 nonprofits all over the region.
  • You take great care of our customers and work hard every day to make Wells Fargo better.

In addition, Wells Fargo:

  • Committed another $20 million to address the need for affordable housing in Charlotte. Part of the effort included bringing the NeighborhoodLIFT® program back to Charlotte in November 2018, helping create nearly 400 homeowners by providing down payment assistance grants. We placed emphasis on supporting local police officers, firefighters, teachers, first responders, and veterans.
  • Provided more than $11 million in grants to 552 nonprofit organizations across the Charlotte region in 2017. We expect our figures for 2018 to be similar.
  • Has served as the title sponsor for an award-winning PGA TOUR event since 2003, which is held at the Quail Hollow Club and has generated more than $20 million in support for nonprofits. Our Wells Fargo Championship provides significant economic impact to the Charlotte-area economy, estimated at $50 million a year.

Yes, Wells Fargo has made mistakes, we have taken responsibility for addressing those errors, we are making things right for our customers, and we are transforming our company in so many ways. From our focus on team members and culture, to improving the customer experience, to our commitment to operational excellence, we are truly creating the most customer-focused, efficient, and innovative Wells Fargo ever. We have accomplished a lot, and we still have work to do. But please always remember this:

You make a huge difference in Charlotte! You are an incredibly talented, hardworking, and dedicated team, and I am very proud of you and everything you do for this region. Thank you.

Op‑Ed for the Charlotte Observer
By Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo CEO and President
Jan. 7, 2019

As CEO of Wells Fargo, I strongly disagree with your editorial board’s characterization of our company as an “embarrassment” to Charlotte. I believe your editorial reflects a lack of understanding and appreciation for one of the city’s most important employers — a company that long has been committed to Charlotte’s growth and success.

Wells Fargo is proud to employ 25,500 hardworking and dedicated team members in Charlotte. We also donated more than $11 million to local nonprofits in 2017 (the latest year for which we have complete data), and local team members donated nearly 180,000 volunteer hours to community causes. Charlotte team members also joined their colleagues across the company in making us the No. 1 United Way campaign in the U.S. for the ninth consecutive year. And just last fall, our company committed another $20 million to address the need for affordable housing in Charlotte. We are proud of our contributions to the city, and we look forward to a continued, robust presence in Charlotte.

I’ll be the first to admit that Wells Fargo has had issues in the past — issues we greatly regret and are working hard to resolve. In fact, just days after I assumed the CEO role in October 2016, I addressed our entire company from the Knight Theater in Charlotte and took responsibility for addressing those issues, while also pledging to examine every business at Wells Fargo. I assured all of our stakeholders that we would be transparent in our actions.

Nearly all of the matters we have faced reflect issues from our past, including the recently settled state attorneys general matter and the California insurance matter you cite in your editorial, which we disclosed more than a year ago. Nevertheless, these past matters need to be resolved in the present — and that is an important part of my job as CEO. In today’s world, resolving these matters can take years and involve potentially lengthy and costly litigation. The recent settlements reflect important progress in our goals to move Wells Fargo forward as quickly as possible while also continuing to provide our customers with high‑quality service and advice every day.

In the past two years, with the full support of our Board of Directors, we have undertaken a massive effort to transform Wells Fargo. Our teams across the company, including those in Charlotte, understand that responsibility and are working tirelessly every day to make things right for customers and build a better bank — while we also take care of millions of customers and keep all stakeholders apprised of our progress.

Our progress hasn’t stopped there. Here are other examples of significant changes we’ve made at Wells Fargo since 2016:

  • New organizational structure. We have streamlined the company’s historically decentralized operating structure, added new leaders in key positions (many from outside the company), enhanced the way we serve customers, strengthened risk and compliance measures, and worked to improve the culture at Wells Fargo. This work is not done, but we have made solid progress.
  • Elimination of product sales goals. From a retail banking perspective, Wells Fargo eliminated product sales goals for retail bankers who serve customers in bank branches and call centers and created a new compensation plan focused on customer experience, stronger oversight and controls, and team versus individual incentives. In the past two years, team members in the Community Bank have invested more than 800,000 hours in learning and development to support Change for the Better, an initiative launched in 2017 that includes new systems, processes, and tools that help team members better serve the needs of customers.
  • Improved customer experience. Our customers today are finding an entirely new experience as we focus on conversations aimed at helping Wells Fargo better understand their financial needs.
  • Innovating for customers. Since 2016, we have emphasized helping customers succeed financially through industry-leading product and service innovations such as real-time balance alerts, a digital brokerage offering for those who are new to investing, and our online mortgage application.
  • Team member retention. On the team member front, we have reduced voluntary team member attrition to its lowest level in more than five years, increased pay for entry-level team members in the U.S., and granted restricted stock rights to approximately 250,000 team members.
  • Giving back to our communities. We also increased the company’s overall commitment to philanthropy, which we expect to top $400 million in 2018, again making us one of the top corporate givers in the U.S.
  • Financial performance. For shareholders, the company has continued to generate solid financial results and strong capital returns, and we remain committed to meeting our expense targets.

In short, we are working hard to build the most customer-focused, efficient, and innovative Wells Fargo ever — characterized by a strong financial foundation, a leading presence in the markets we serve, focused growth within a responsible risk management framework, operational excellence, and highly engaged team members.

Make no mistake, we know there is more work to do and historical matters to resolve, but our progress in the past two years is real and is continuing. Our team members are focused on this path forward and we are, together, building a better Wells Fargo.

I thank our customers and partners for their loyalty and support, our stakeholders for their engagement, and our team members for their passion and commitment to deliver on our vision. Despite the view of your editorial board, we come to work every day proud to serve this great city and help our customers succeed. Our pride and dedication will only continue to strengthen and grow across Wells Fargo, including right here in Charlotte.