PHOENIX — Wells Fargo CEO Charles Scharf was in Phoenix for a roundtable meeting with small business and community leaders on Friday, after which he sat down for an exclusive interview with the Business Journal.
Scharf, who marked two years as the head of Wells Fargo this week, said meetings like this with local stakeholders are essential, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic limited travel in the past 18 months.
“With all of the best intentions, we sit in our corporate conference rooms, and sometimes you just don't always really understand what happens on a very local level,” he said. “So having the opportunity to meet with a group of people who are really working at that local level, helps us figure out what we can do better and what we can do next time. Because we do believe that we have an obligation that goes well beyond just making money for our shareholders.”
The roundtable meeting featured community organizations that have received money from the bank’s national Open for Business Fund, a $420 million pot of money made up of the fees Wells Fargo collected while processing Paycheck Protection Program loans.
In Arizona, Chicanos Por La Causa and Raza Development fund have jointly received $8.5 million from the fund to help boost local businesses during pandemic recovery. On Friday, Scharf and Wells Fargo announced a new grant of $1 million for the Maricopa County Colleges Foundation, bringing the bank’s grant total up to $12 million in the state.
Wells Fargo is the second-largest bank operating in Arizona based on local deposits, with 20% of the market.