Embattled Wells Fargo Chairman and CEO John Stumpf is stepping down from the bank he has led for nearly a decade, following intense scrutiny over a fake accounts scandal that erupted last month.
San Francisco-based Wells said Wednesday that Stumpf informed the company’s board of directors that he is retiring from the bank and its board immediately. The bank’s board elected President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Sloan to replace him and named him to the board.
It’s a stunning fall for a banking leader who had helped guide Wells Fargo through the financial crisis and lead the company through its acquisition of Charlotte-based Wachovia. The bank now has its biggest employee base in Charlotte.
Lead director Stephen Sanger will take on the role of non-executive chairman and director Elizabeth Duke, a former Federal Reserve Board governor, will become board vice chair.
“While I have been deeply committed and focused on managing the company through this period, I have decided it is best for the company that I step aside,” Stumpf said in a statement. “I know no better individual to lead this company forward than Tim Sloan.”
Sanger, in a statement, praised Stumpf for his leadership of Wells Fargo during the financial crisis and the Wachovia merger, “and helping to create one of the strongest and most well-known financial services companies in the world.”
“However, he believes new leadership at this time is appropriate to guide Wells Fargo through its current challenges and take the company forward,” Sanger said.
Stumpf, 63, faced heated, bipartisan criticism from lawmakers at two Capitol Hill committee meetings, with multiple House and Senate members calling on him to resign. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, said he had showed “gutless leadership” by placing blame on lower-level employees while top executives kept their jobs.