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Wells Fargo & Company Navigating the Waters of Controversy and Standing Tall

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Wells Fargo & Company is an American multinational company operating in the financial industry with its corporate headquarters in San Francisco, California, operational headquarters in Manhattan, and executive offices throughout the United States and overseas. 

Wells Fargo’s primary subsidiary is National bank Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., which is incorporated in Delaware and designates its main office as Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It is the fourth-largest bank in the U.S. in terms of total assets. It is ranked number 30 on the 2020 Fortune 500 rankings of the world’s largest corporations by total revenue. 

In July 2015, Wells Fargo edged past ICBC to become the world’s largest bank by market capitalization before slipping behind JPMorgan Chase in September 2016 after a scandal involving the creation of over 2 million fake bank accounts by Wells Fargo employees. Wells Fargo experienced further falls when it fell behind the Bank of America to third by bank deposits in 2017 and fourth behind Citigroup by total assets in 2018. Wells Fargo is considered a systematically important bank by the Financial Stability Board. 

In its present form, Wells Fargo is a result of a merger between San Francisco–based Wells Fargo & Company and Minneapolis-based Norwest Corporation in 1998 and the acquisition of Charlotte-based Wachovia in 2008. Following the mergers, the company transferred its headquarters to Wells Fargo’s headquarters in San Francisco and merged its operating subsidiary with Wells Fargo’s operating subsidiary in Sioux Falls. Along with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup, Wells Fargo is one of the “Big Four Banks” of the United States. As of June 2018, it had 8,050 branches and 13,000 ATMs. In 2018 the company had operations in 35 countries with over 70 million customers globally.

In a 2014 Banker and Brand Finance study of the top 500 banking brands, Wells Fargo was named the world’s most valuable bank brand. This was for the second year running as it was named the most valuable brand in 2013 too. In 2016, the company ranked 7th on the Forbes Global 2000 list of largest companies in the world and on the Fortune 500 list of the largest banks in the US, it ranked 27th. Also, in 2015, the company was ranked the 7th most respected company in the world, and in the same year, it ranked 22nd most admired company in the world. 

In terms of rating, as of December 2018, Wells Fargo achieved a Standard & Popes credit rating of A-. Although in 2007, the company was the only AAA-rated bank, albeit for a brief period. 

In June 2018, as a result of some of the controversies that have trailed the company for years, Wells Fargo began retreating from retail banking in the Midwestern United States by announcing the sale of all its physical bank branch locations in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio to Flagstar Bank.

Although Wells Fargo like any other multinational company has had its fair share of controversies and run-ins with the authorities and media, the company has remained resolute in delivering first-class financial services to its teeming customers. Hence, being considered as one of the most important banks in the United State was not accidental. 

Visit Wells Fargo to learn more. 


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