Wells Fargo names Karen Peetz, former BNY Mellon president, to board of directors

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Wells Fargo on Monday named longtime BNY Mellon executive Karen Peetz to its board of directors.

Peetz retired on Dec. 31 after 18 years with the New York custody bank. She served in a number of high-ranking positions during her career there, including CEO of global corporate trust, CEO of financial markets and treasury services and, most recently, president, a title she held for nearly four years until her retirement. She was the first female president in the bank’s history.

Before to joining BNY Mellon in 1998, Peetz worked for 16 years at JPMorgan Chase and its predecessor banks.

Joining Peetz on Wells Fargo’s board is Ronald Sargent, a retired chairman and CEO of the office-supply company Staples. Peetz will serve on the bank’s finance and human resources committees while Sargent will serve on its human resources and governance committees, Wells said in a news release.

“We are very pleased to add these two exceptional leaders to our board,” Chairman Stephen Sanger said in the release. “Karen will provide particular expertise in financial services, client services, and regulatory matters, while Ron brings deep experience in consumer retail and marketing, as well as in the management of a large workforce serving customers globally through a variety of channels.”

Nodding to the recent phony-account opening scandal that has badly damaged Wells Fargo’s reputation, Sanger added that Peetz’s and Sargent’s “perspectives will make an important contribution to the board’s oversight of Wells Fargo and help ensure that we continue to move in the right direction to restore the trust of our customers and create value for our shareholders.”

The San Francisco company agreed in September to pay $190 million to settle charges that branch employees created nearly 2 million unauthorized accounts in an effort to hit sales goals. The scandal led to the resignation of Chairman and CEO John Stumpf in early October and forced Wells to split the chairman and CEO roles. Sanger took over as chairman and Tim Sloan, Stumpf’s longtime deputy, was named CEO.

The scandal continues to weigh on the company’s retail business. Wells said Friday that new checking account openings plunged 31% in January from a year earlier.

Peetz in particular has extensive experience in crisis management. She served as chairman of the board at Penn State University, her alma matter, during the sexual abuse scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

As chairman, she made a series of changes to increase transparency as the university was under intense public scrutiny, including opening up meetings to the public. She also established new committees that included students, faculty and alumni.

Peetz is also one of the banking industry’s most prominent women. She has ranked high among American Banker’s Most Powerful Women in Banking for more than a decade and was ranked No. 1 in 2011 and 2016.

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