For at least one day, Dick Kovacevich was back as the public face of Wells Fargo (WFC).
Kovacevich, who largely built the $1.4 trillion-asset company before retiring as CEO in mid-2007, participated in Wednesday's pro-am as part of the Wells Fargo Championship, an annual golf tournament in Charlotte, N.C.
"For a hacker, I did OK," Kovacevich said in an interview after finishing 18 holes with Rickie Fowler, who won last year's tournament, and Reyhan Griffin, a 14-year-old who earned the chance to play. The trio finished five shots behind the eventual winner.
So why was Kovacevich there instead of John Stumpf, the San Francisco company's current chairman and CEO? "John doesn't play golf," Kovacevich said. "They couldn't find anyone else this year, so they went to the bottom of the barrel and selected me."
Kovacevich said he plans on spending time with Wells Fargo customers during the event. He has appeared at the tournament before; Wells Fargo inherited the sponsorship as part of its 2008 acquisition of Wachovia. Last year, Tim Sloan, Wells Fargo's chief financial officer, played, but Kovacevich said Sloan is in Europe and was unavailable to represent the company at the pro-am.
The veteran banker also made it clear that he has no plans of jumping to another team, despite recent speculation that a struggling bank could entice him to take one more turn as a CEO. "My loyalties are with Wells Fargo," Kovacevich, 69, said with a laugh. "I'm still helping out. They're my friends. It's like family, so I would never compete with them."