Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan, commenting two days after the bank’s chairman batted back Wall Street whispers that the board is looking to replace him, said he’s prepared to keep running the company for much of the next decade.
“I’ll stay in this role as long as the board believes that I’m the right person for the role — and they do, and I think I am,” Sloan, 58, said in an interview Friday. Still, he emphasized, his last day will ultimately depend on whether directors remain satisfied with his work. “It could be as long as tomorrow,” he mused. “So somewhere between tomorrow and seven years.”
Sloan is widely credited by analysts for taking tough steps in his nearly two years atop the firm to overhaul it in response to scandals — installing a new management team, bolstering internal controls and retooling incentives for employees. On Wednesday, Chairman Betsy Duke said he has the board’s unanimous support, and that it’s never wavered, as he’s reshaped the company.
Sloan announced the next phase of Wells Fargo’s transformation on Thursday, telling staff at a town-hall meeting he plans to reduce the workforce by about 5 percent to 10 percent within three years to focus on costs. The San Francisco-based lender, which had about 265,000 employees at midyear, is struggling to maintain profits as it resolves probes and legal claims and tries to work its way out of a Federal Reserve cap on assets.
Many of the cuts will come through attrition, as some workers leave on their own and aren’t replaced, Sloan said Friday.
If the CEO has any regrets about the changes he’s made so far, he said, it’s the pace at which they were pushed through.
“Sometimes we haven’t moved as quickly as I would have liked, and part of that is because of my leadership,” he said. “When I look back and say, gosh, I think we’ve made all the right decisions. But are there some that I wish we would have moved more quickly on? Absolutely.”