Richard Kovacevich

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Dick Kovacevich
Richard M. Kovacevich

(1943-10-30) October 30, 1943 (age 77)
EducationStanford Business School (MBA)
Stanford University (BS, MS)
OccupationBusiness executive and investor

Richard Marco Kovacevich (born October 30, 1943) is an American business executive and the former CEO of Wells Fargo & Company.

Early life and education[edit]

A native of Tacoma, Washington, he grew up in Enumclaw, Washington, a lumber town about 30 miles southeast of Seattle, where his father (of Yugoslav origin) worked in the sawmill. His parents are Joseph and Dorothy Kovacevich.[1] At Stanford University he received BS and MS degrees in industrial engineering, followed by an MBA degree from Stanford Business School in 1967.[2][3]



Early in his corporate career he was a planning and division general manager with General Mills before joining Citicorp. At Citicorp he was made head of regional retail banking. Kovacevich was told by his team that Citibank had 30% market share but was losing 108 million dollars a year. Probing deeper, Kovacevich realized that they meant that Citibank had 30% checking account market share (in other words, 30 percent of all people who lived in the Citibank regions had a checking account with Citibank). In reality, Citibank only had 6% market share of deposits (the vast majority of money being in Savings and Loans, Credit Unions, and other institutions). Kovacevich expanded Citibank aggressively into other areas such as mortgages.


He then joined Norwest Bank as chief operating officer and head of the retail banking group in March 1986. At Norwest, Kovacevich confronted a similar situation. Norwest was mostly centered in Minnesota and Iowa at the time, with a relatively small population in both states. Kovacevich realized the only way he could keep growing the company would be to expand beyond banking services, into investment and insurance services as well. Kovacevich theorized that eventually it would be impossible for any bank to continuously grow if it did not do this.

Kovacevich instituted the new strategies while serving as president of Norwest from 1989, chief executive officer from 1993, and chairman from 1995.[4] The higher revenues, relative to stable fixed costs which this method produced allowed Norwest to purchase many other banks, culminating with the 1998 purchase of Wells Fargo. Although Norwest was effectively the survivor, the merged company retained the better-known Wells Fargo name and moved to Wells Fargo's headquarters in San Francisco. After the merger, Kovacevich was given the positions of president and CEO of Wells Fargo. In 2001 he was elected chairman as well.


Kovacevich is responsible for many trends currently[when?] found in the financial services industry:

  • Edit note: none of this was true. These innovations of branch as a retail store (BARS) are the work of John McCoy, CEO of BankOne nna Chase.
  • His "leadership style puts accountability for success in the hands of each and every employee".[4]

Wells Fargo[edit]

He relinquished the presidency of Wells Fargo to John Stumpf in August 2005. On June 27, 2007, the board of directors elected Stumpf CEO, with Kovacevich retaining the chairmanship.

In September 2009 Wells Fargo announced Kovacevich would step down as chairman and a director at the end of 2009 and retire from the company in early 2010 after 23 years with Norwest and Wells Fargo.[5]

Other positions[edit]

Besides Wells Fargo, Kovacevich is a former Board of Directors of Cisco Systems, Inc.,[6] and formerly Target Corporation.[7] He is also vice president of the board of governors of the San Francisco Symphony,[7] vice chairman of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and a member of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's California Commission on Jobs and Economic Growth, the National Infrastructure Advisory Committee, and the Financial Services Roundtable.[citation needed]

Hudson Executive Capital[edit]

In June 2015, it was announced that Kovacevich is a CEO partner and had invested in Hudson Executive Capital, LP, an activist hedge fund.[8]


Kovacevich joined the board of advisors in 2013 and the board of directors in 2016 of heavily criticized Theranos, a now defunct privately-held health, technology and laboratory services company headquartered in Palo Alto, California that falsely claimed to have developed devices to automate and miniaturize blood tests using microscopic blood volumes. He was also an investor in the company. Theranos corporate governance practices have been criticized.[9] Theranos's tests were exposed as unreliable, government regulators found the company posed a risk to patient safety, Walgreens suspended Theranos blood tests in their stores, the US proposed severe sanctions on the company, and the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission began criminal investigations into Theranos. Kovacevich continued to defend Theranos as "a good company" and claimed the treatment of CEO Elizabeth Holmes was "unfair."[10][11]

Personal life[edit]

Kovacevich is married to Mary Jo and is the father of three children.[1]

In the political realm, he has been a member of Pete Coors for Senate, Romney for President, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the New Leadership for America Political Action Committee.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b American banker directory of U.S. banking executives, American Banker, 1980, p 315
  2. ^ Farrell, Greg (26 March 2007). "CEO Profile: Wells Fargo's Kovacevich banks on success as a one-stop shop". USA Today. Retrieved 25 April 2016. Education: Stanford, bachelor's degree, engineering; MBA, 1967.
  3. ^ "Cream of the Crop Gone Sour: America's Troubled CEOs". Fox News. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2016. Richard M. Kovacevich, Chairman: MBA Stanford University (1967), BA Stanford (1965)
  4. ^ a b Richard L. Daft, Dorothy Marcic (2009): Understanding Management 6e, Sixth Edition, South Western Cengage Learning, Mason, OH, ISBN 0-324-56838-X, ISBN 978-0-324-56838-7, p 429
  5. ^ "Wells Fargo chairman Kovacevich to retire". Reuters. 22 September 2009. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  6. ^ Payne, Patti (21 October 2013). "Banking giant Kovacevich gives tips on leadership, how to succeed in business". Puget Sound Business Journal. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  7. ^ a b "On the Record: Dick Kovacevich". San Francisco, California: San Francisco Chronicle. 27 July 2003. Retrieved 25 April 2016. Board affiliations: Cargill Inc., Target Corp., San Francisco Committee on JOBS, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
  8. ^ de la Merced, Michael J. (5 June 2015). "Mary Schapiro and Richard Kovacevich to Join Hedge Fund". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  9. ^ Abelson, Reed (24 April 2016). "Theranos's Fate Rests With a Founder Who Answers Only to Herself". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 April 2016. But an adviser to the company, Richard Kovacevich, a former chief executive at Wells Fargo, acknowledged the limited role played by anyone other than Ms. Holmes.
  10. ^ Imbert, Fred (20 April 2016). "Theranos director: Treatment of CEO Holmes 'unfair'". CNBC. Retrieved 25 April 2016.
  11. ^ "Theranos will survive, say ex-Wells Fargo CEO, attorney who are both directors". Silicon Valley Business Journal. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 25 April 2016.