In September, Wells Fargo & Company announced that Patty Tuttle would replace Andrew Bertamini as the company’s Maryland region president.
Tuttle, who started in banking as a part-time teller, moved to Maryland from Virginia, where she served as a senior vice president and retail credit manager.
This month, on her 45th day on the new job, The Daily Record hosted Tuttle for a wide-ranging interview that touched on Wells Fargo’s response to its fake account scandal, how she’s handling employee concerns, the challenges of fintech and the future of banking.
Are you confident that you have found everything with Maryland account holders that happened?
Anything related to accounts that weren’t wanted or needed and used has definitely been reviewed and looked at. We have over 85 lines of business across the company, and so we’re making sure that everything is looked at so we can make sure we’re building the trust with both our customers and our team members. If you look at the Maryland region and you talk to the bankers and the tellers and the managers that have worked in this region, they would tell you that this is not our Wells Fargo, this is not something that we were known to do. They are working hard as well to make sure our customers see and feel that.
For the Maryland people who were affected, what has Wells Fargo done to help make it right?
There is definitely a lot of work that has been done through the Jabbari settlement. We have resources that our team members in our branches have that direct customers with what their rights are and where to go and make sure that they are made whole again. The majority of that work has been done and there was not a significant amount.
How did it affect your employees, with the reputation hit your company took? What have you done for both employees and customers?
We have done listening sessions within every single region within the company. There have been listening sessions specifically to Maryland. We started a Raise Your Hand Initiative, which allows team members to give feedback on everything. Maybe it’s a process that’s making it harder for them to take care of the customers. Maybe it’s something that they’re not sure about or uncomfortable about, and so the Raise Your Hand process allows us to quickly get that feedback elevated up. And we’re seeing changes happen.
You met individually with all 90 managers?
Yes. I’ve got to start with the team members. What I heard from them was what was on top of mind for their bankers, for their tellers. I’ve got another round of meetings coming up. I’m sure I’ll hear a lot more, we’ll kind of expand the scope of the conversation more. But again, it has to start with the team members that open the doors every day and talk to our customers.
Do customers have any hesitancy to bank with Wells Fargo?
That’s the interesting thing is we have not seen that. Even if there’s been a customer issue raised, the issue has been something that’s easily fixed. Maybe it’s a question about a feature of their account, or maybe it’s feedback on our drive-through teller, but what I’m hearing is these are longtime customers of the company and they are committed to us and we are committed to them.
Do you anticipate an expansion of your SBA loan portfolio?
We have had pretty strong growth in that over the past seven or eight years. I would say that we’ll continue to see as the needs are there that we will continue to try to meet those needs and work with the SBA.
Are you guys going to overtake M&T (on SBA loans)?
It’s interesting, because my view on whether it’s M&T or Bank of America or PNC or any of the local banks around here, is that there are enough customers for all of us to stay busy and help serve. I think the biggest opportunity is what we’ve already started doing in this area, and that’s the partnership that then allows us to reinvest back in the community.
What have you learned as you’ve come into Maryland and talked to people around the state about where the economy is at?
What’s interesting — I came from Virginia and before that I worked in Georgia — is how even things like the Maryland Bankers Association works, how some of the statutes are different in the state of Maryland. I still have a lot of learning to do, but there’s definitely differences within that.
What’s not different, is there’s always opportunity when we’re talking about workforce development, we’re talking about education. … How do we help those kids that are in school today understand how to manage finances, understand how to set themselves up for success, whether it’s going to college or going straight into the workforce. How do we make sure that they are equipped? And I think that there are significant areas in Maryland for us to invest back into the educational systems and, because you are really talking about the future consumers, future leaders, future workforce, and there’s some opportunity there.
How do you deal with the fintech world? Become more fintech, is that the solution?
If you think about some of the things that we are excited about, is the investment that we are making in the digital space. … We have customers that could tell us, ‘I would prefer that you text me or email me versus pick up the phone and call me.’
So are the branches going to go away?
No. Because, well, my 26-year-old prefers it. She wants to sit down across from someone and look them in the eye and understand what’s going on.
In Maryland there’s still significant opportunity for us. We’re not looking at closing branches. We are looking at making investments to help our branches and managers put things in customer language and make things easier for them. Some of that may include more enhancements digitally. Our bankers would like a tablet. They all want the iPads, you know?
Do you see yourself putting your own stamp on where Wells Fargo invests or what sort of community issues it becomes a part of?
I think it’s probably going to be similar to what Andy had. It’s something that is similar across Wells Fargo that it definitely is in education, it’s in workforce development, health and human services. I was going to teach high school English, and education has always been a big one for me. In my former role I did a lot with connecting with workforce development, because not every child has the same path post-high school, and some struggle to even get through high school, so how are we helping them? I worked a lot with folks like junior achievement. I still see that same commitment, I don’t see significant change in the work that Andy did.
Do you miss working with customers?
I do find myself missing (that). I still have a couple of customers from when I was a banker in Georgia that still track me down. Give me feedback on what they’re seeing in the branches in Augusta, Georgia.