Wells Fargo names new head of auto lending unit

Wells Fargo named a new head of its auto lending division, which has started to grow following a period when the company deemphasized car loans.

Tanya Sanders, who joined the bank’s auto lending unit in 2019, will succeed Laura Schupbach, who is retiring after 26 years at the $1.9 trillion-asset bank, according to a press release Wednesday.

Mike Weinbach, CEO of consumer lending at Wells Fargo, credited Sanders with helping to modernize the company’s auto unit over the last two years.

Wells Fargo has resumed growth in auto lending following a period in which the bank restructured and shrank its footprint in the business.

“Tanya has been instrumental in laying the foundation for Wells Fargo Auto to leverage more automation and digital capabilities to deliver for our dealers and customers,” he said.

Wells Fargo was the nation’s largest auto lender back in early 2015, but the company made a decision to cede that position, partly due to falling used-car prices increasing credit quality concerns at the time. The auto business, which was part of a scandal that led Wells Fargo to pay a $1 billion fine, also went through a restructuring.

At the end of the second quarter of 2021, Wells Fargo had roughly $51 billion in auto loans, lagging behind Ally Financial, which reported $74.7 billion in retail auto loans, as well as JPMorgan Chase and Capital One Financial, both of which have had more than $60 billion in outstanding auto loans in recent quarters.

The U.S. auto lending market has boomed since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, offering an avenue for loan growth at a time when banks are seeing limited demand for credit.

For Wells, auto lending was one of the “green shoots” during the second quarter, Chief Financial Officer Michael Santomassimo told analysts on an earnings call last week. The bank, which saw a dip in total loans, reported $8.3 billion in auto loan originations, up from $7 billion in the prior quarter and $5.6 billion in the second quarter of 2020.

Sanders has been heading the auto division’s transformation team and previously led its underwriting and fulfillment division. Before joining Wells, she was managing director of business operations at Chase Auto, and held leadership positions at Bank of America and General Electric.

Schupbach, who joined Wells Fargo in 1995, was tapped to lead the bank’s auto group in 2017.

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