Wells Fargo Establishes Innovation Group to Study Evolving Customer Expectations

Steve Ellis will lead the new organization, which will focus on five core areas: R&D, innovation strategies, payment strategies, design and delivery, and analytics.

(Wells Fargo Center, Los Angeles, home of the new Innovation Center. Photo credit: Minnaert.)

Wells Fargo (San Francisco) has formed a new Innovation Group to work with its major businesses to meet evolving customer needs and stay ahead of the shifting competitive landscape, according to a company statement. Steve Ellis, recently head of Wells Fargo’s Los Angeles-based Wholesale Services, will lead the group. Ellis, a 28-year veteran of the company will continue to be based in Los Angeles.

Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo's Innovation Group.

Steve Ellis, head of Wells Fargo’s Innovation Group.

“Creating the Innovation Group puts an even larger focus on creating the products, services, and technologies that will allow us to stay competitive and allow our customers to do their banking when, where, and how they would like,” comments John Stumpf, chairman and CEO, Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo reports that its Innovation Group will be focused primarily on five core areas:

  • research and development;
  • innovation strategies;
  • payment strategies;
  • design and delivery; and
  • analytics.

“The end goal is for the Innovation Group to serve as a catalyst for the company to quickly transform its business models, processes and programs, and user experience all while successfully managing within an enhanced risk and regulatory environment,” comments Ellis.

Ellis will take three of his Wholesale Services teams to the Innovation Group, including payment strategies, research and development, and social strategy and collaboration, Well Fargo reports. The company anticipates that other teams and individuals from across the enterprise will become be added to the Innovation Group over time. The Wholesale Services team also recently launched the Wells Fargo Startup Accelerator, now in its third round of funding and mentoring select global startups, with the aim of helping to advance innovative technology solutions for the financial services industry. Areas explored include omnichannel solutions, biometric authentication, and beacon technology, according to Well Fargo.

Ellis accomplishments at Wells Fargo include the establishment 15 years ago of the industry’s first single sign-on point of access to a variety of financial services for businesses. “Today we are seeing new financial service models and smaller competitors with different economics and restrictions that can operate at a faster pace,” Ellis comments. “But no one knows our customers better than we do, and our new Innovation Group can leverage that knowledge to deliver great new solutions to our retail, commercial, and corporate customers.”

Ellis reports to Hope Hardison, who will assume the role of chief administrative officer (CAO) when Pat Callahan retires August 31. The CAO group now includes Human Resources, Corporate Communications, Enterprise Marketing, Government and Community Relations, and the Innovation Group.

Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at [email protected] or (503) 936-2803.

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