Wells Fargo's CEO is planning a major corporate restructure
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Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf is restructuring the embattled bank's corporate structure and reporting lines to increase oversight and accountability, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The bank will be splitting its three existing business units into five. What was previously the wholesale bank will be broken into a commercial bank providing backend services for companies and an investment bank focused on capital markets.
And Wells Fargo's consumer bank will be split into a unit focused on branches and small businesses and another specializing in consumer lending. The heads of each of the new units will report directly to Mr. Scharf. The fifth unit in this structure is wealth and investment management.
The shakeup represents Scharf's first major structural change to the bank since he was appointed CEO last October. He has been largely focused on appeasing regulators and repairing the bank's broken reputation following a 2016 scandal in which it was revealed that branch employees had opened potentially millions of accounts without customers' consent.
And he has been busy in that regard, having had to grapple with negative attention from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA), a member of the US House Committee on Financial Services: Porter has accused the bank of passing on costs from its scandals to third parties, and called for it to disclose details on the scale of a potential problem with two of its checking accounts that may have confused customers about how to avoid fees.
But Scharf is confident in the new reporting structure's ability to move the bank forward, saying he believes the bank's "organizational model and our strengthened risk and control foundation will bring greater focus and accountability to the company," in a statement cited by the Journal.
If the new structure finally manages to whip Wells Fargo into shape, the bank could have a chance to shake its federal growth cap. One of the heaviest burdens on Wells Fargo's future prospects is a limit on the bank's assets imposed by the Federal Reserve in an unprecedented move in February 2018 that remains in place today.
Shucking this cap will be necessary for Wells Fargo to expand, and the new structure, with the increased oversight it affords, as well as the centralization of power in the hands of Scharf, to whom all division heads will have to report, could help demonstrate to federal regulators that the bank has the risk management framework and accountability required to properly govern a bank of Wells Fargo's size.
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