Its CEO and management team are the tight-lipped faces of a company that doesn't earn the media coverage, criticism and analysis of others like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs.
So when WF's chief financial officer, Robert Atkins, unexpectedly resigned this week, a flurry of speculation (and very little information) transpired, in addition to a more than 3 percent share price dip. Better PR might have softened the blow.
Reuters Breakviews' Rob Cyran wrote today that WF needs to be a better communicator, especially as the bank's face before shareholders was Atkins for the past decade:
"The bank has never been a fan of public back-and-forth. Its executives refused to take questions on quarterly earnings calls until a year ago and would pre-record their statements. And Wells is known among journalists for its high quote of 'no comment' responses."
In announcing Atkins' exit, WF said in a press release that he is retiring at 60 for "personal reasons" and that his departure is unrelated to the company's finances. It notes that Atkins' retirement is effective in August and will come after an unpaid leave of absence.
That lack of detailed information prompted the finance blog Stone Street Advisors to wonder about the company's finances, noting that WF escapes the scrutiny of its peers because its largest shareholder is the sainted Berkshire Hathaway and "why upset Uncle Warren?"
Cyran concludes that WF needs to turn up the PR and "display a bit more openness" if it wants Wall Street to acccept what it says without skepticism.