Background Image
Previous Page  8 / 12 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 8 / 12 Next Page
Page Background

Wells Fargo’s changeover

fromWachovia marked the

largest bank merger in U.S.

history. When the union

was first announced, the

task of integration seemed

overwhelming. Now that we

are on the other side, I get

asked frequently how we did

it and how we managed to

do it so well.

While every

situation is different,

I can tell you three

strategies that helped

us: making customers

our first priority; taking our time with the

change; and finally, making investments in

people, infrastructure and our communities.

Keeping customers in the forefront

Georgia was the first state on the East Coast

to make the switch to Wells Fargo. It was

an honor to pave the way. From the very

beginning, many months before the actual

conversion took place, we worked hard to

keep our customers at the center of it all.

Our vision is to satisfy all our

customers’ financial needs and help them

succeed financially. Keeping them first

meant communicating thoroughly and

well in advance, minimizing disruptions

and offering them even more choices than


Our first communication went to

customers more than three months in

advance. It was high-level, and was followed

with more detail written in customer-

friendly language. We also made sure our

bankers were fully informed so they could

answer questions. We let customers know

they could continue to use checks and

deposit slips and we grandfathered account


In business banking—

my line of work—many

customers did not change

over right away. They

continued to get the same

services as before. But all

were offered new choices

of products and services,

where it made sense, such

as equipment financing and

new types of lending.

Being deliberate

Another strategy that helped

us was choosing to take our time. The merger

became official on December 31, 2008.

We didn’t switch our signs and systems in

Georgia until the fall of 2010. Even now, we

still have several states in the East left. The

entire changeover will be completed later

this year.

Being gradual meant we could learn

from previous states and get even better. We

started with states in the West where both

Wachovia and Wells Fargo operated. By the

time we got to Georgia, with its 2.9 million

customers and 350 locations, we were much

better prepared.

Still, customers saw signs of Wells Fargo

along the way.

Making investments

In late 2009 and early 2010, we made a

major investment when Georgia became

the first state in the East to receive Wells

Fargo’s innovative envelope-free ATMs at

278 bank stores and other bank locations.

These machines showed our customers some

of what they could look forward to with

Wells Fargo – convenience and advanced


We also started offering our customers

some of the new products that they would

have access to with Wells Fargo, such as

insurance and identity theft protection.

With the switch to the Wells Fargo

business model, we invested in people by

adding more than 500 jobs in Georgia,

something important with unemployment

so high.

In Gwinnett County, where we are the

No. 1 bank with 29 bank stores and more

than 400 team members, we added some

40 jobs. We remodeled every bank store,

making them more open and inviting for

our customers, and making them more

environmentally friendly. At several,

we added customized historic murals,

deepening the connection to the local area.

Finally, something that was very

important to us was to make sure to give

back to the community.

To help celebrate our new ATMs in

Gwinnett, we gave $15,000 to the Gwinnett

County Public Schools Foundation. In

the fall, we asked our customers to help

us give away $120,000 across Georgia by

choosing which among a group of non-profit

organizations would get the most money. We

also provided more than 300 non-profits in

Georgia with $1,000 grants through Wells

Fargo’s Days of Giving program. Our bank

stores and other bankers selected groups to

be honored, including 29 based in Gwinnett.

And, to the delight of hundreds

of children, the iconic Wells Fargo

stagecoach and horses made appearances

at five elementary schools across the state,

including Rockbridge Elementary in


There can never be a one-size-fits-all

formula for bringing together two large

companies. But if you keep your priorities

straight – making your customers and the

community No. 1, and taking your time to

do things right, you are much more likely to

find success.

Keeping Customers and Communities First Leads to Success for Wells Fargo

Robert Dobbs, Senior Vice President and Area Business Banking Manager