After spending months insisting they were looking for an outsider to fill the role of CEO, Wells Fargo’s board members may be eying an insider for the position.
The Wells Fargo board is considering keeping interim CEO Allen Parker in the position, according to a CNBC report that cited sources familiar with the matter. Parker took the interim position in March following the ouster of former CEO Tim Sloan, who left following pressure from politicians and regulators as the bank continued to be mired in scandal.
Sloan, formerly Wells Fargo’s CFO was a replacement for CEO John Stumpf, who left in 2016 in the wake of the bank’s fake accounts scandal. However, scandals continued to erupt during Sloan’s tenure in the top spot, and many lawmakers and regulators felt he was too much of an insider to repair the bank’s foundering reputation.
“As CFO and COO, Tim Sloan helped enable (the bank’s bad behavior),” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) tweeted earlier this year. “He got rich off it. And he tried to cover it up. How’s he the right guy to help clean up the mess?”
With that in mind, the Wells Fargo board set a goal of hiring an outsider to replace Sloan. But the bank faced an uphill climb; there are simply a limited number of people with the necessary experience to run one of the world’s largest banks – and many who have that experience might balk at tying themselves to scandal-plagued Wells Fargo.
CEO candidates would also face an unusual level of regulatory scrutiny – the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said last month that it would exercise its authority to vet Wells Fargo’s pick for the top job.
Despite the board’s initial insistence on hiring an outsider, board members have been warming to the idea of making Parker the permanent CEO, CNBC reported. Parker has made a good impression on regulators, shareholders and employees, and since he joined Wells Fargo in 2017 – a year after the first of its scandals broke – he’s not as tainted by the bank’s bad behavior as he might have been, CNBC reported. Indeed, Parker initially joined the bank as general counsel specifically to help it clean up those scandals.
This isn’t the first time Parker has been touted as the best choice for permanent CEO. Last month, it was reported that several senior executives at the bank were lobbying the board to award him the job.