Wells Fargo’s marketing chief is leaving as bank retires that position

UPDATE: May 28, 2021: 

Wells Fargo’s head of regulatory relations is leaving the bank, American Banker reported Wednesday, citing a company spokesman.

“Earlier this month, Sarah Dahlgren shared her decision to leave Wells Fargo to pursue new professional challenges,” the spokesman said in an email, adding that Dahlgren is exiting of her own volition.

Dahlgren joined the bank in February 2018, after serving for two years as a partner and McKinsey and a 25-year stint at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to LinkedIn.

Steve Manzari, most recently the head of regulatory engagement for Wells Fargo’s consumer businesses, will replace Dahlgren on an interim basis, the bank spokesman said.

Regulatory relations have been crucial to Wells Fargo in the years since the bank’s 2016 fake-accounts scandal came to light. When CEO Charlie Scharf took the bank’s top role in October 2019, Wells Fargo had 12 enforcement actions against it.

“My primary focus has been on advancing our required regulatory work with a different sense of urgency and resolve,” Scharf said during his first earnings call as Wells Fargo’s CEO.

The bank has winnowed its enforcement action total to 10, American Banker reported in January.

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Dive Brief:

  • Wells Fargo’s chief marketing officer, Michael Lacorazza, is leaving the company, and the bank is retiring the CMO role, Business Insider reported, citing two anonymous sources.
  • The bank announced internally in February it was decentralizing the marketing department, opting to assign a marketing lead to each of its divisions rather than employing a team to oversee marketing across the company, a spokesperson for the bank said.
  • The sources gave no concrete date of departure for Lacorazza, who stepped into the companywide marketing role after Jamie Moldafsky, who had served as Wells Fargo’s CMO from 2011 to 2020, left the bank in September.

Dive Insight:

Several major companies recently have jettisoned the central CMO role. Food giant General Mills reported this month that its CMO, Ivan Pollard, left the company as part of a restructuring in which the company does not plan to replace him.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, the company said the decentralized marketing model is “designed to better align its organizational structure and resources with its strategic initiatives.”

“As we pivot from the pandemic, in a position of strength, we are aligning our organization to maintain momentum in the dynamic markets we serve around the world,” the company said in a statement this month.

Wells Fargo’s latest CMO move has roots in a February 2020 restructuring that split its three business units into five — dividing its wholesale bank into commercial and investment units, and dividing its consumer bank into one that encompasses consumer lending, and another that centers on branches and small businesses.

“These changes create the right structure to build our businesses over the long term and increase our ability to successfully execute on our top priority, which is the risk, regulatory, and control work,” CEO Charlie Scharf said at the time.

The decentralized model is “designed to create a flatter line of business organizational structure and provide leaders with clear authority, accountability and responsibility,” the bank said in February 2020.

Companies such as McDonald’s, which had, for about a year, gone without a chief marketing officer, have reversed course to bring more unity to their brand vision and better juggle changing needs around areas like data and analytics.

More than half of CMOs surveyed as part of a recent white paper from M&C Saatchi Group’s Clear consultancy said their influence increased during the pandemic.

“One of the things the pandemic’s done is put marketing more squarely back in the middle of a company’s operations,” Pollard told Marketing Dive in February. “All of this stuff about not needing a CMO or marketing anymore, I think it’s shifted back.”

While Wells Fargo may not be replacing Lacorazza in a central role, the bank is hiring a CMO for its consumer and small-business banking division, a company spokesperson told Business Insider.

Before joining Wells Fargo in 2012, Lacorazza served as managing director of retail marketing at TD Ameritrade and worked as a vice president for Marriott, according to his LinkedIn profile.