Schools of Business Board of Visitors Member Stanhope Kelly Reflects on 30 Year Banking Career

8.15.2010 Article, General, School News

Executive has put in 30 years with bank
Originally Posted on Sunday, August 15 | By Richard Craver
Reposted from Winston-Salem Journal

Stanhope Kelly is in the third act of a banking career that already has spanned 30 years, all with Wachovia Corp. in its various forms.

Kelly serves as Wells Fargo & Co.'s regional president for community banking in the Carolinas, a post he was named to in January 2009 — just two weeks after the bank officially took over Wachovia. He is the top-ranking Wells Fargo official in Winston-Salem, having previously served as the president of Wachovia's wealth-management group.

Kelly considers himself blessed that he was able to jump into a banking career with Wachovia just three days out of college. Most of the first half of his career was spent in Raleigh, while most of the second act has been spent in Winston-Salem.

While absorbing the lessons that 30 years of experience can teach, both good and bad, Kelly said he still embraces a "let's move forward" mentality with his career and life.

Kelly took time out to talk about his career and what lies ahead. An edited version follows:

Q. In an industry in which many top executives retire after securing their nest egg, some as early as age 52, reaching 30 years is a milestone, particularly with one company through all its recent changes. What do you credit the longevity to?

A. I had a great start in this industry, working with people in the first decade of my career that formed so much of who I am today. People who were honest, hard-working, of character. I enjoyed working for a company whose credibility was so much more than my individual credibility could ever be. There's been people I've grown up with in this bank.

I've had the good fortune to do a lot of different things. I've had 15 different job responsibilities in a 30-year career. I've helped now with two major bank transitions. That's the most important element of my job today, helping Wachovia get completely into the new company. I get a lot of energy and satisfaction out of that.

Q. Where do you see yourself with Wells Fargo when the integration is completed in late 2011?

A. I'm working with one of the best teams I ever have, and we're having lots of success in the Carolinas. As long as the company wants me to keep doing this, and I'm enjoying doing it, and it's a win for the bank, a win for me personally and a win for the community, I'm good to go.

We still have a lot of work to do.

Q. Do you ever think about what would have happened if Wells Fargo had not stepped in to bid on Wachovia in 2008? It's clear what Citigroup wanted from Wachovia — deposits — which did not necessarily mean a presence in Winston-Salem, or Charlotte for that matter.

A. There's so many what-ifs in that scenario that it's such a waste of time, so irrelevant, to discuss. But it has been surreal in the aspect of not only what we would not have been with Citigroup, but what we've become with Wells Fargo. It's an extreme of both of those.

Q. There is a great history, and great expectations, of corporate contributions to the local community. Given Wachovia's heritage here, as the top executive representing Wells Fargo here, what should the community expect from the bank and from you?

A. We are committed to contributing to what this community is building economically, and it is important to me personally to have a voice in that. I serve on a number of local boards as part of that commitment, and it amazes me the level of engagement the top business leaders have to this town.

Wachovia has been a formidable employer and formidable contributor to many, many good causes in this town. While Wachovia clearly has changed and is not the corporate enterprise it once was, it has remained a constant and important part of the success and culture of this community.

I feel a lot of pride that is continuing.

Q. So you are in the category that Winston-Salem's best days are yet to come economically rather than it's peaked with all the changes and downsizings it's experienced in the past decade?

A. You can definitely put me in the best-days-to-come category, although we're in a transition period and the next five years are critical to that transition.

We have a chance to be a remarkable success story through this reinvention of ourselves.

Q. Where do you think Wells Fargo is as a local competitor nearly two years after the collapse of Wachovia?

A. In the consumer business, I think we are in very good shape. We continue to have the best customer-service scores that we've had in the last 10 years. The Carolinas is the best with those scores on the East Coast for Wells Fargo. When it comes to net gain of customers, we're in a nice positive territory. So while we're having a bump here and there, we're in really nice shape.

In the midsize commercial business, it's stable after having been through a rocky period. Part of it was the economy, the awkward period when Wachovia wasn't doing so well, the intense competition and the merger. The last two months have been the best lending months of the last three years, and we've had 95 percent employee retention in that area.

In the large commercial business, we're as steady as we've ever been.

Q. What still motivates you?

A.Moving forward and building things. That can be building our business, building teams in the Carolinas, being a part of building Winston-Salem.

I like to be a part of progress.

Stanhope Kelly
• AGE: 52.

• HOMETOWN: Raleigh.

• EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in business administration from N.C. State University.

• JOB: Regional president for Carolinas Community Banking for Wells Fargo & Co.

• CAREER: Joined Wachovia Corp. in 1980 as a personal banker. Served as Forsyth County executive in Winston-Salem, regional executive in Raleigh, head of consumer financial services and president of Wachovia Wealth Management.

• FAMILY: Wife and two daughters.

• COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Board member of N.C. State foundation, Piedmont Triad Partnership, Old Salem Museum and Gardens, Winston Salem Foundation, Wake Forest Schools of Business board of visitors, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center board of visitors, N.C. Bankers' Association, vice chairman of N.C. Chamber of Commerce.