CEO Scott Powell to depart Santander Consumer in Dallas to Wells Fargo
The top executive leading a turnaround at Santander Consumer USA, Scott Powell, is leaving the Dallas company and becoming chief operating officer at Wells Fargo & Co. Powell, 57 years old, oversaw the Dallas unit for just over 2 years. He worked to resolve government lawsuits and other regulatory matters. He also led Santander Holdings since 2015, including the Dallas company and a retail banking operation in Boston.
Mahesh Aditya became president and CEO of Santander Consumer this Monday. He’s also 57 years old, being Santander Holdings’ chief risk officer since May 2018. He was previously a risk management executive at Visa, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase and Capital One.
Powell’s exit surprised people. Just less than four weeks ago in the downtown Dallas headquarters, he participated in a media interview with Ana Botin, who is executive chairman of Madrid-based Banco Santander. The banking giant bought the Dallas subprime lender in 2006 with over 70% of outstanding shares. The Dallas unit owns $29 billion in car loans with about 5,000 employees. It ranks the second in the nation largest subprime auto lender. With $5 billion in car loans, Texas is the largest market.
Santander has been sued by regulators and state attorneys general for a variety of problems, including illegally repossessing vehicles from military members or putting people into unaffordable car loans. According to Powell, most issues have been addressed, and Santander took a $126 million reserve against those legal liabilities in the third quarter. Meanwhile, he had tried to change the culture and boost morale, with a belief that those moves would help recruit and retain people. In last month’s interview, he said: “Having them feel like they work for a responsible company is critical”.
A campaign around wearing red shoes to the office was launched by Powell last year, with an aim to encourage employees to consider what it’s like to walk in the shoes of someone less fortunate. In addition, the company started several charitable initiatives, like building houses for homeless veterans or funding programs in financial literacy.
Powell said they employed a lot of folks, keeping them engaged and motivated was really important.
According to a regulatory filing, Powell will receive $1.75 million base-salary and a signing bonus of $3.2 million at Wells Fargo. Moreover, he’ll also get restricted shares worth $7.5 million to replace compensation he’s forfeiting at Santander. And he will be based in New York.