Santander Holdings USA, Santander Consumer USA Holdings and Wells Fargo all made high-level leadership changes on Tuesday morning with an executive shifting from one institution to the other being among the moves.
According to separate news releases, Timothy Wennes has been named Santander US chief executive officer and country head, effective immediately. Wennes succeeds Scott Powell, who has left the company to become chief operating officer at Wells Fargo in an action that’s effective on Dec. 9.
And since Powell also was CEO of SCUSA, the auto-finance company also announced that succeeding him in that role will be Mahesh Aditya, who has served as Santander US chief risk officer since last May.
The company recapped that Wennes joined Santander in September as CEO of Santander Bank (SBNA) — a role that he retains in addition to his new appointment. He was also named to the Santander US board of directors.
In his expanded role, the company indicated Wennes will have responsibility for all U.S. operations of Banco Santander, executing long-range plans and growth strategies and successfully completing the company’s regulatory remediation.
Wennes brings significant banking experience to the role, joining Santander from MUFG Union Bank.
Meanwhile as the new leader of its auto-finance entity, Aditya is now in that role after first joining Santander US in 2017 as chief operating officer. The company noted Aditya has deep consumer finance experience and has held executive management positions in risk management and oversight for Visa, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One.
Wells Fargo explains its actions
After becoming a part of the leadership team, Wells Fargo said Powell will serve on the company’s operating committee and report directly to CEO and president Charlie Scharf.
“I have known Scott for many years, and his tremendous experience, proven track record and unquestioned integrity will make him a great addition to our management team,” Scharf said in a news release. “He’s the ideal person to take on this new position as we seek to transform Wells Fargo so that high-quality execution, clear accountability and operational excellence become unquestioned components of our culture.
“These elements are critical for us as we tackle our most important priority, regulatory remediation and also create the foundation from which to build Wells Fargo and to best serve our customers,” Scharf went on to say.
As COO, Wells Fargo indicated Powell will oversee regulatory execution and relations, enterprise shared services and a range of operational functions across the company. He will be empowered to execute on the company’s regulatory commitments, build the strongest possible operational standards and governance and deliver consistent, high-quality customer service.
As CEO of Santander Holdings USA, Wells Fargo highlighted that Powell led the auto-finance company’s turnaround, including resolving significant regulatory issues, implementing customer-focused oversight programs, improving financial and operating controls and increasing community and employee engagement.
Prior to Santander, Powell held a number of senior roles at JPMorgan Chase, including head of consumer banking, lending operations and consumer risk management. He also was CEO of consumer lending at Bank One, and he spent 14 years at Citi in various risk management roles.
“I am truly excited about the opportunity to join Wells Fargo and take on this new role during a critical period in Wells Fargo’s history,” Powell said. “Like Charlie, I have long admired and respected Wells Fargo. The company plays an important role in the U.S. economy, and we must ensure we are operating seamlessly and with the utmost integrity.
“I recognize that expectations are high and that we have significant work ahead of us. By working together and holding each other accountable, I’m confident that we will meet those expectations,” Powell went on to say.
Wells Fargo added Powell will be based in New York. He serves on the boards of directors of Phipps Houses and the END Fund in New York City and the Boys & Girls Club of Boston.
Additional moves at Santander
Santander also revealed two other executive actions on Tuesday morning.
The company said Sarah Drwal has been appointed Santander US and SBNA chief risk officer, succeeding Aditya and bringing more than 20 years of experience to the role.
Furthermore, Juan Carlos “JC” Alvarez, who is Santander US and SBNA chief financial officer, has been named to the SC board of directors.
Drwal has served as executive vice president and head of enterprise risk management for Santander US since 2017 and as chief risk officer for SBNA consumer and business banking since 2016.
Prior to joining Santander, Drwal served in executive leadership roles in risk, fraud, governance and strategy for JPMorgan Chase and Capital One, and began her career at Experian.
A highly experienced finance professional, the company recapped Alvarez joined Santander in 1996 and has held roles with increasing responsibility, including serving as CFO for SC from 2017 to 2019 where he oversaw SC’s financial reporting, financial planning and analysis, and accounting functions.
Santander acknowledged its U.S. business has completed a period of notable transformation in the last four years, making substantial enhancements with respect to board oversight, compliance, risk management, capital planning and liquidity risk management.
The company closed two significant written agreements with the Federal Reserve and as a result the company received a regulatory non-objection for its capital distribution plans in both 2018 and 2019, allowing it to return a dividend in 2018 for the first time since 2011. It has also made significant lending and other commitments to the communities in which it operates, and in 2018 achieved an upgrade to its Community Reinvestment Act rating.
Santander emphasized that its U.S. strategy remains focused on seizing organic growth opportunities and completing its regulatory remediation initiatives while further integrating operations and support functions to improve efficiency.
In addition, Santander US stressed that it will continue to leverage the strength of the Santander group while investing in improving the customer experience through both digital and physical channels. In the medium-term the group aims to grow the return on tangible equity in the U.S. from 6% to 11% to 13%.
Banco Santander executive chairman, Ana Botin, who recently joined the Santander US and SBNA boards, said in a news release: “Tim and Mahesh have proven themselves to be excellent leaders with tremendous expertise and talent. We see significant opportunity for growth in the U.S. market and I am proud that we have internal successors who are so well prepared to lead this next stage of our strategy, and I look forward to working with them even more closely in the years ahead.
In the past four years we have made outstanding progress in addressing the legacy regulatory issues and laying the foundation for future growth, and on behalf of the board and the group, I want to extend our thanks to Scott and wish him all the best for this next stage of his career.”
SHUSA and SBNA boards chairman Tim Ryan added, “The leadership team and employees of Santander US have moved our U.S. businesses forward in operating at large financial institution standards, and this work will continue with the leadership appointments we announce today.
“Santander US is fortunate to have a deep, strong management team, and we will carry on our work of meeting our regulatory goals and improving customer satisfaction in all our businesses,” Ryan went on to say.