Wells Fargo executive works to raise bank’s profile in Delaware

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Lauren

Lauren E. Tobiassen is working to raise the profile of Wells Fargo in Delaware.

The nearly 30-year veteran of the bank now heads a region that includes the bank’s Delaware locations, minus the city of Philadelphia.

The senior vice president formerly headed the Central Pennsylvania region in a career that was spent in the bank’s home territory in California as well as a stint in Denver She holds an MBA in marketing from the University of Southern California.

Recently Tobiassen stopped by Wells’ Delaware headquarters on the top floor of the former Rollins-AstraZeneca building for an interview. The lone high-rise on Concord Pike offers a spectacular view of the area that may only be topped by climbing up WDEL’s radio tower.

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The view was also a reminder of the change that took place at Wells Fargo, which resisted the normal tendency to lump the First State in with Philadelphia. Tobiassen now reports to a Wells Fargo executive in New Jersey.

Delaware, which had been part of the Philadelphia-area operations of the banking giant. is now part of a separate region that includes 64 branches. The area includes suburban Philadelphia as well as the entire state of Delaware.

While the financial services company was active in the Delaware market, it seemed to live in the shadow of the city where the Wells Fargo inherited the former Core States-Wachovia franchise along with naming rights to the home of the 76ers and Flyers.

The Wells Fargo restructuring last year was portrayed in media reports at the time as a cost-cutting move by the financial services giant.

Tobiassen said the move did eliminate a layer of management but was aimed at efforts to get closer to customers and the community.

As part of the community work, she had been in Bear earlier in the day to present a check aimed at aiding a program atthe YMCA. She participates in such events as part of an effort to stay closer to the philanthropic work of the bank.

The Wells Fargo brand in Delaware also comes with a sometimes blurry identity brought on by multiple brand and ownership changes.

There was a scandal over accounts being opened without the knowledge of customers that led to a management shake-up that included the departure of a once highly regarded CEO. News also came out last week about the government reportedly offering to settle allegations over the company’s mortgage and auto lending practices for $1 billion.

Tobiassen said Wells Fargo still comes to the table with a many strengths.

The financial services company mostly escaped the fallout from the 2008financial meltdown, thanks to a diversified loan portfolio that was not tied to the mortgage securities market.

One of her priorities is the small business market, an area where Wells Fargo has always been active.

Meanwhile, employee compensation has increased. The starting wage for all associates is now $15 an hour, with wages also raised for those on the next pay tier. An employee stock purchase plan has been offered.

Wells Fargo remains a significant player in Delaware’s financial services industry, with total employment at 600 in a variety of areas including credit cards and wealth management (the former A.G. Edwards).

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