Wells Fargo hires an outsider to lead its innovation group

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Wells Fargo said Tuesday that the head of its innovation group is retiring and that the position will be filled by an outside hire.

Steve Ellis plans to step down in September after nearly 31 years with the San Francisco company, Wells Fargo said in a press release. Ellis was chosen to lead the bank’s innovation group when it was formed in July 2015. The idea was to create a separate team of employees that would work with different business units inside of the company in an effort to stay ahead of the technological curve.

During his nearly three years in the job, Ellis’ team led the development of Wells Fargo’s startup accelerator program. The innovation group is also hatching Greenhouse, a mobile banking account that is expected to be released later this year.

The group’s next head will be Lisa Frazier, who currently works as an adviser to banks and startups. Frazier, who is scheduled to join the company on May 29, previously served as chief digital officer at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Earlier in her career, she spent nine years as a partner at the consulting giant McKinsey.

“I am excited to have Lisa serve as a catalyst for innovation at Wells Fargo,” Avid Modjtabai, head of payments, virtual solutions and innovation at the $1.9 trillion-asset bank, said in the press release. “Her vision, passion and deep experience in digital transformation at scale will help us further our efforts to build simple, personalized experiences that make a difference in our customers’ lives.”

Wells Fargo is relying heavily on digital innovation in its quest to bounce back from a series of scandals that have badly damaged its reputation.

“We’ve got to move a lot faster than we ever thought, and we have to make sure we’re attracting the next generation of talent,” Wells CEO Tim Sloan said at a banking industry conference in November.

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