Wells Fargo has hired executive search firm Spencer Stuart to search for a new CEO. The banking giant wants to hire a woman who can deal with public perception and regulatory issues, according to a report by Reuters.
The bank aims to become the only major U.S. banking institution with a female CEO, and hopes the new optics will be able to improve its image with the public, including banking regulators and politicians, after a disastrous 2016 scandal in which it allegedly opened millions of accounts without authorization.
The bank’s former CEO Tim Sloan left suddenly in March. He was the second to leave in the wake of the scandals.
One of the frontrunners for the position is Jane Fraser, Citigroup Inc.’s Latin America chief. Fraser has been at Citigroup for 15 years; she ran both consumer and commercial business as well as the company’s private bank.
Another woman in the discussion is JPMorgan’s Marianne Lake. However, as she was picked to run JPMorgan’s consumer lending business last week, Lake isn’t as viable of a choice. Alphabet Finance Chief Ruth Porat and Bank of America CTO Cathy Bessant are also reportedly candidates for the job.
One source told Reuters the Wells Fargo board thinks a woman could appease lawmakers who have criticized the banking industry for its lack of diversity. The bank will, however, also consider men for the job.
Wells Fargo said it wants to complete the search within the next three to six months. Allen Parker, who had been the bank’s general counsel, is serving as the company’s interim CEO.
The bank’s shares have sputtered since Sloan’s departure.
Greg Donaldson, chairman of Donaldson Capital Management in Indiana, said shares in the company would be “the best stock on earth to buy” with the right CEO. “It would be very smart for them to get a woman,” he added.