'No Commitments, No Promises,' Wells Fargo CEO tells Wachovia employees
Several hundred Wachovia employees got their first chance Wednesday to hear from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. He addressed them at Wachovia's headquarters. Up until today, what most Wachovia employees knew about the merger with Wells Fargo came through e-mails and prepared statements. This morning, hundreds of bank employees gathered to hear about the bank's future firsthand from Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf and Wachovia CEO Bob Steel. Steel was greeted by applause as he took the podium. He says he feels the disappointment that Wachovia couldn't make it on its own, but joining with Wells Fargo is the best possible outcome. "The reality is that we were having to adopt a strategy that was defensive and we were constantly on our back foot trying to deal with issues. This combination with Wells Fargo will allow us to stop being defensive, go on offense, and affiliate with a company that's one of two financial institutions in the world with a AAA rating," Steel said. Stumpf then took the stage to half a minute of applause from Wachovia employees. He began by telling the crowd about the history of Wells Fargo, that he had always admired Wachovia, but never thought the two banks would merge. Then Stumpf began to address the matter of jobs, but only generally. "As we move forward, my job will be to help all of you stay with the company. Obviously no commitments, no promises, but that's my goal," Stumpf said. Stumpf has said once the banks merge, $5 billion in expenses between the two banks will be cut by 2010. He wouldn't say how many jobs will be lost. "If there are duplicated jobs, where we don't need two do something, we've used in the past and we'll use again something called retain and re-train to do something else. Only after exhausting all those things will we talk about severance and those kinds of things," added Stumpf. Despite the uncertainty that remains, the employees here were grateful to finally be hearing from the top. Wachovia employee Kamal Desai who works with deposits says Stumpf and Steele both seem genuine. "I guess it's a little better than last week or two weeks before. Everything sinks in and you start to see the larger picture and start looking forward to a different future," said Desai. As for the future of Wachovia CEO Bob Steel, he says he won't have an operating role with the company once the merger is complete.