Cam Fine, president and CEO of Independent Community Bankers of America, is having a field day with Wells Fargo's new advertising campaign
In commercials Fine says are airing during the Olympics, Wells calls itself the world’s “largest community bank.”
"So does that mean that Wells Fargo is suddenly NOT too-big-to-fail? That it has joined the ranks of the too-small-to-save?" Fine writes on his blog. "Don’t make me laugh."
He calls the ad, "an insult to REAL community banks."
"You can’t call yourself a community bank unless you actually are subject to free-market forces and are allowed to succeed or fail based on your own merit. Like so many Wall Street mega firms, Wells Fargo wants it both ways—100% government protection AND the perception that it is a community bank."
A spokewoman for Wells said Fine's blog misquoted the commercial; she says the company refers to itself in the ad as the "nation's" largest community bank. Wells had no further comment.
It's not the first time Wells, which is the fourth-largest U.S. bank by assets, has been called out for trying to have it both ways. Early last year, the blog Seeking Alpha took issue with Wells president and CEO John Stumpf's statement before a congressional panel, "We are a community bank."
"His views are understandable given the storied pasts of Wells Fargo and Norwest Corporation prior to their merger in 1998," Dr. James V Baker wrote on the blog.
But Baker said Well's October 2008 announcement that it intended to acquire Wachovia "forever shattered the market’s perception that Wells was a traditional community bank. That merger also destroyed the belief that Wells Fargo & Company was immunized against the economic storms sweeping the nation."