Cus­tomer care

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By LIA ZHU in San Fran­cisco li­azhu@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

John Stumpf, chair­man and CEO of Wells Fargo, an­swers ques­tions about the best way to take care of busi­ness in China, and a few other things.

John Stumpf, the chair­man and CEO, of Wells Fargo & Com­pany, the third-largest bank in the United States by as­sets and the largest bank by mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion, sees China as an im­por­tant part­ner to help keep his com­pany mov­ing for­ward.

The San Fran­cisco-based com­pany’s im­age of a six­horse stage­coach thun­der­ing across the Amer­i­can West, loaded with gold, takes its re­la­tion­ship with China back to the Cal­i­for­nia Gold Rush in the 19th cen­tury, when Wells Fargo reg­u­larly pro­vided busi­ness ser­vice to Chi­nese min­ers and rail­road work­ers.

In 1916, the com­pany es­tab­lished ex­press of­fices in Shang­hai and Hong Kong. To­day, it has of­fices in Bei­jing, Shang­hai, Hong Kong and Taipei.

A 34-year veteran of Wells Fargo, Stumpf has con­tin­ued a tra­di­tion of con­sis­tent strat­egy and man­age­ment, help­ing the com­pany pros­per since tak­ing over the helm in 2007.

The 62-year-old Stumpf was named 2015 CEO of the Year by Morn­ingstar, Inc, for “guid­ing the bank through a dif­fi­cult pe­riod in the in­dus­try and shunned ac­tiv­i­ties that put prof­its ahead of cus­tomers, build­ing up strength while many of its peers lan­guished”.

Stumpf at­trib­uted the suc­cess to com­mu­nity in­vest­ing. “The very sim­ple truth is we never see one of our banks de­velop when the com­mu­nity does poorly. We are linked in a very di­rect and spe­cial way,” he said. “Some com­pa­nies miss the fourth leg, which is the com­mu­nity.”

Though the com­pany has no plan to do com­mer­cial bank­ing in China, Wells Fargo sees China as an im­por­tant part of its global ex­pan­sion strat­egy.

Stumpf spoke to China Daily about Wells Fargo’s op­er­a­tions in China and its part­ner­ships. The fol­low­ing are edited ex­cerpts of the in­ter­view.

What do you think of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Wells Fargo and the banks in China?

We ac­tu­ally do a lot of busi­ness in China as a cor­re­spon­dent bank. We have of­fices there. So we like what’s go­ing on with our re­la­tion­ship, with our Chi­nese part­ners. Our growth with our part­ners in China is an im­por­tant part of our com­pany. I hear that China is not grow­ing as fast as it has been. It’s so ro­bust of an econ­omy and an im­por­tant part of the world econ­omy.

What is Wells Fargo’s China strat­egy?

It is pretty much help­ing our US cus­tomers do busi­ness in China and vice versa, and serv­ing as a cor­re­spon­dent bank for a num­ber of the Chi­nese banks. So we help for­eign ex­change with trade. Those are the two prin­ci­pal busi­nesses.

What ad­van­tages does Wells Fargo have in China’s bank­ing mar­ket?

We ac­tu­ally ser­vice our China banks. We don’t com­pete with them. We have a very broad dis­tri­bu­tion in the US, so any­thing hap­pens in the US, we would know about many times we par­tic­i­pate in so we bring a lot of value to China in that, and the value they bring to us is to build the knowl­edge of Chi­nese busi­nesses.

Our growth with our part­ners in China is an im­por­tant part of our com­pany. ” John Stumpf, chair­man and CEO of Wells Fargo

What is Wells Fargo do­ing on green tech?

We are the largest in­vestor in fi­nanc­ing all things — wind and so­lar. We made a huge com­mit­ment there, so we are ac­tive in that. Clearly in terms of eco­nomics most of those re­quire some level of tax or govern­ment sup­port, and we are ac­tive there, rec­og­niz­ing that will get bet­ter and bet­ter over time. In our own sit­u­a­tion, I think 30 per­cent or 40 per­cent of our build­ings are LEED (Lead­er­ship in En­ergy and En­vi­ron­men­tal De­sign) cer­ti­fied. We have so­lar pan­els on roofs and re­cy­cle pa­per in our 6,000 lo­ca­tions. All those things are im­por­tant to us, be­cause we live here so do our cus­tomers.

What is the most im­por­tant thing to do to main­tain cus­tomer re­la­tion­ship?

We see cus­tomers de­mand more con­ve­nience, more value, more clar­ity and more safety, we need to en­sure we step up to that. When cus­tomers do busi­ness with us they want to make sure their busi­ness is pri­vate, se­cure, not shared or not sold.

On your vis­its to China, is there a place that has par­tic­u­larly im­pressed you?

I’ve been to China a num­ber of times. I love ev­ery place, but es­pe­cially Shang­hai. It’s very im­pres­sive.

LIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY

John Stumpf, chair­man and CEO of Wells Fargo, is a 34-year veteran of the com­pany.

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