In the industry’s race to integrate major banking company acquisitions, Wells Fargo & Co. likes being the tortoise rather than the hare.
"When we had the merger with NorWest and Wells Fargo, we took a longer approach to that merger than a lot of our competitors do with similar sized mergers. Similarly now [with Wachovia Corp.], I would say that we’re probably taking a more measured approach than some of our competitors are," Michael Kennedy, the head of W'ells Fargo’s enterprise payments strategy group, said in an interview Monday.
He told audience members during a keynote address at SourceMedia Inc.’s annual ATM, Debit & Prepaid Forum in Las Vegas, which concluded Tuesday, "There are a lot of moving parts, a lot of things we have to do to integrate the systems.
The banking industry got a "once-a-decade" example this month of just how badly those integrations can go -- and the sort of reputation backlash they can provoke -- as TD Bank angered many customers with weeks of systems glitches.
"I don't think there’s any silver bullet, where you can say, 'Oh, if they had done X, it wouldn't have happened,'" Kennedy said during the interview. But he said a ‘measured approach’ is the best possible preparation.
At Wells Fargo, "just making it job one is going to be important to understand what all the intricacies are, what the complexities are, and really put a lot of smart people on it against those and see what can we do to get all the systems merged properly," he said. "Yeah, the merger's going to last a little bit longer, but we take the time to, in our opinion, do it right the first time."