Wells Fargo's Mary Mack: The No. 1 Woman to Watch

Register now

Head of Consumer Banking, Wells Fargo

Is there any banker in America who has more on her plate than Wells Fargo’s Mary Mack?

Already the head of Wells’ community bank, which is still dealing with the fallout from the phony-accounts scandal that came to light two years ago, Mack late last year was also put in charge of consumer lending, which includes two lines of business, mortgage and auto lending, that are grappling with reputational problems of their own.

Add it all up and Mack, a direct report to CEO Tim Sloan, now oversees the nation’s largest branch network, mortgage operation and small-business lender, as well as the third-largest auto lender.

Mack's title was recently streamlined, from head of community banking and consumer lending, to simply head of consumer banking. The group has 110,000 employees, accounting for almost half of Wells’ total U.S. workforce.

It’s tempting to say that Mack got tapped to head consumer lending because she has experience with business units plagued by scandal. It was Mack who the company turned to in July 2016 to clean up the community bank, so it seemed reasonable that Sloan would trust her to fix problems in the mortgage and auto arms that had been flagged by regulators for overcharging customers and selling them add-on products they didn’t need.

But Mack said the move to combine consumer lending with community banking was all about serving customers better.

Consumer loans often originate in branches and many depositors have mortgages or other loans with Wells, so Mack said it made sense to merge business lines in which there is so much overlap. As the businesses become even more intertwined — expect to see more mortgage and auto lenders setting up shop in branches, for example — “there is great opportunity to serve customers in an even more integrated way,” Mack said.

Still, those mortgage and auto lending violations did nothing to help Wells’ flagging reputation, so Mack is well aware that boosting employee morale is still a big part of her job.

See the most recent rankings:
Most Powerful Women in Banking
Women to Watch
Most Powerful Women in Finance

Much as she did with branch employees in the wake of revelations about abusive sales practices, Mack spent the early part of the year traveling the country meeting with consumer lending teams and urging them to speak up when they see something wrong or have ideas for improving processes.

It’s all part of a broader effort to help Wells regain the trust of customers.

On Mack’s watch, Wells has eliminated product sales goals within branches and simplified processes so that front-line employees are empowered to make decisions, such as a waiving a fee, on the spot.

Wells also has rolled out such customer-friendly features as low-balance alerts, and fee-free overdrafts if the customer has a direct deposit coming in that night.

The results of these efforts have been encouraging. New account openings, which declined during much of 2017, are once again on the rise and customer attrition is at a five-year low. Importantly, employee turnover is also declining.

It’s a challenge running two huge business lines, but Mack said she can do it because she has a great team of leaders who are all focused on the same goal: making banking easier for customers.

“At the end of the day we are all serving customers,” she said. "That’s our job and it’s a job our customers need us to simplify, not make more complex."

See other Wells Fargo women in our ranking:

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.
Consumer banking Auto lending Mortgages Mary Mack Wells Fargo Women in Banking