March 29, 2019 / 10:08 PM / 3 months ago

FACTBOX-Five challenges in store for Wells Fargo's next CEO

March 29 (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co’s board started its official search for a new chief executive officer on Friday after announcing the abrupt departure of CEO Tim Sloan a day earlier.

What are some of the challenges a new CEO will have to tackle?

Asset Cap: Sloan’s successor will have to satisfy the requirements of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s asset cap, which prohibits the bank from increasing its balance sheet beyond 2017 levels. The bank has said it expects the asset cap to be lifted by the end of this year. Yet analysts believe mid-2020 is a more realistic time frame.

Executive turnover: Wells Fargo veterans lead many of the bank’s main business segments, but fresh leadership at the top could spur additional senior departures, analysts said.

“Anyone on that next level down who had hoped to be a CEO near term, that kind of squashes that possibility,” said KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl. The new CEO may also decide to remove senior executives to bring in outsiders to refresh the culture.

Shoring up business fundamentals: Wells Fargo was the only large-cap U.S. bank to not increase the number of loans or deposits over the last two years, according to Refinitiv data. Investors will want to see a plan to expand the bank’s core business. For now new management will likely have to continue shrinking to enhance profit, analysts said.

“The plan will be the same in terms of cutting costs an getting leaner,” Edward Jones analyst Kyle Sanders said.

Dealing with Washington: Wells Fargo has become a perpetual target of U.S. lawmakers Most notably, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, has made the bank’s past misdeeds a constant talking point in her campaign. Fixing the bank’s relationship with her, and other politicians such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Maxine Waters is sure to be an uphill climb, analysts said.

“Even a pick with DC experience won’t immediately fix the bank’s troubles,” said Cowen Analyst Jaret Seiberg.

The bank is also still faces lingering investigations by regulators.

Winning new business: Wells Fargo’s consumer bank has begun seeing signs of customer growth after flat-lining in the wake of its unauthorized consumer accounts scandal, but its other lines of business have been slower to add new clients. Executives have told Reuters that its wholesale bank, which caters to corporate and institutional clients, has struggled to add new business. (Reporting and compilation by Imani Moise, editing by Anna Irrera and Grant McCool)

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