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