Wells Fargo’s task in CEO search? Find the next Jamie Dimon

By FinancialsFOXBusiness

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Wells Fargo is launching an external search for its next CEO and analysts had one resounding piece of advice for the embattled lender: find the next Jamie Dimon.

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The current head of JPMorgan Chase is the industry's most prolific leader, credited with training the next generation of executives and solidifying the bank’s position as the largest financial institution in the U.S.

His former protégés hold positions across the financial sector, including Barclays CEO Jes Staley and Charles Scharf, former Viseo CEO and BNY Mellon’s current chief -- as well as Comcast CFO Michael Cavanagh.

Achieving that goal, however, is easier said than done. Dimon was appointed CEO of Chase after the company’s purchase of Bank One – where he was the top executive -- in 2004, and only after serving as president and chief operating officer of the combined firm. 

“What they need to find is an individual who is in the same position that Jamie Dimon was when he went to BankOne,” RBC Capital Market’s Gerard Cassidy told FOX Business. “Finding somebody who is already established and has brand recognition, I’m not convinced that's who you want to go for.”

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Wells Fargo declined to comment on its search beyond prior comments from board Chairwoman Betsy Duke.

Chase is an obvious place for Wells Fargo to look and experts flagged a number of potential candidates, including investment banking head Daniel Pinto. But some analysts are hoping the lender will go with a lesser-known individual.

Other names that analysts cited were William Demchak, CEO of PNC Financial Services Group, Colm Kelleher, Morgan Stanley’s departing president, Bill Rogers, the CEO of SunTrust Banks Inc. who is slated to lead the lender after its merger with BB&T, and Robert Steel, CEO of Perella Weinberg Partners and former economic adviser for past New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Experts also flagged Bank of America as a potential firm to pull from, but viewed it less likely that the lender would look to a company like Citigroup -- which has more of an international focus on emerging markets.

Given Wells Fargo’s laundry list of regulatory problems, the bank could tap someone from the federal government for its next chief. One name cited by several analysts was Neel Kashkari, current president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Demchak, Kelleher, Pinto and Steel did not respond to FOX Business' requests for comment. Kashkari and Rogers, through spokespeople, declined to comment.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
WFCWELLS FARGO & COMPANY47.51+0.03+0.06%
JPMJP MORGAN CHASE & CO.113.61+0.06+0.05%
BACBANK OF AMERICA CORP.30.08+0.06+0.20%
PNCPNC FINL SVC134.24+0.07+0.05%

Underscoring Wells Fargo's search, however, is the need to appease its most fervent congressional critics, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren -- a Massachusetts Democrat who had a notable role in forcing the departure of current CEO Tim Sloan and former chief John Stumpf, who oversaw the lender when many of its major scandals occurred.

Warren has “fired two CEOs,” said Dick Bove, senior research analyst at Odeon Capital Group. “You can’t ignore her, you just can’t do that.”

At the top of the list for any new executive will be addressing the federal scrutiny and convincing the Federal Reserve to lift the asset cap imposed on Wells Fargo last year.

“They are doing it to try to get themselves out of the crosshairs of a regulatory body politick that’s been against them both in rhetoric [and] in reality,” Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, told FOX Business. “The focus externally is a good way to show your hand, that you’re looking to change things potentially pretty meaningfully in terms of the culture at least.”

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Outside of moving past the tumultuous last few years, however, the new CEO could also be tasked with expanding Wells Fargo’s investment banking and overseas operations to better compete against Chase and Bank of America.