×

CNBC Exclusive: CNBC Transcript: Wells Fargo Chairman & CEO John Stumpf Speaks with CNBC’s Kayla Tausche on “Squawk on the Street” Today

WHEN: Today, Tuesday, December 1st

WHERE: CNBC's "Squawk on the Street"

Following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC EXCLUSIVE interview with Wells Fargo Chairman & CEO John Stumpf and Kayla Tausche on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" (M-F, 9AM-11AM ET) today. Video of the interview will be available on CNBC.com.

All references must be sourced to CNBC.

TAUSCHE: THANK YOU. WE'RE HERE LIVE WITH THE CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF WELLS FARGO JOHN STUMPF. JOHN IT IS GREAT TO HAVE YOU.

STUMPF: WELL NICE TO BE HERE AND WELCOME TO SAN FRANCISCO.

TAUSCHE: THANK YOU. AS OF RECENTLY WELLS EARNED THE TITLE OF THE LARGEST BANK IN THE WORLD BY MARKET CAP BUT YOU GET 97% OF YOUR REVENUES HERE IN THE UNITED STATES SO YOU'RE LARGELY A BAROMETER FOR THE U.S. ECONOMY. WHAT'S YOUR READ?

STUMPF: IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD. THE ECONOMY IS REALLY GROWING AT A 2%, 2.5% RANGE. IT'S BECOMING MORE REGIONAL. MEANING THAT IT IS MORE INDUSTRY SPECIFIC. FOR EXAMPLE, HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO, THE BAY AREA, IT'S BOOMING. THESE TIMES ARE LIKE BACK IN THE LATE 1990s OR THAT TIME FRAME WHEN A LOT OF SOCIAL MEDIA COMPANIES AND SO FORTH, THE ENERGY SECTOR AND OUR TEXAS BUSINESS WOULD BE, YOU KNOW, LESS ACTIVE AND LESS GOOD, BUT AS A GENERAL STATEMENT, THINGS ARE PRETTY GOOD. THE ECONOMY WILL BE LARGELY DEPENDENT ON WHAT HAPPENS OUTSIDE THE U.S. THAT'S THE BIGGEST RISK TO THE ECONOMY. AND WITHIN THE U.S., PROBABLY CONSUMER SPENDING. HOW MUCH OF THAT HAPPENS.

TAUSCHE: OUTSIDE OF THE U.S. WE OBVIOUSLY HAVE A NEW RISK FROM THE GEOPOLITICAL LAYER IN OUR GLOBAL ECONOMY, BUT THEN THERE'S THE STRONGER DOLLAR. HOW DOES THAT ALL AFFECT A COMPANY THAT'S LARGELY U.S.-CENTRIC?

STUMPF: I THINK THE STRONG DOLLAR AND THE LACK OF EXPORTS PROBABLY TAKES A POINT OFF THE GROWTH. IF WE'RE GROWING AT 2.5% GDP, IT'S PROBABLY 3.5% IF YOU HAVE A NORMAL SITUATION WITH EXPORTS. FOR OUR CUSTOMERS, YOU KNOW, WE'RE LARGELY ON MAIN STREET. WE DO BUSINESS WITH LARGE CORPORATIONS, BUT THEY'RE LESS AFFECTED BY THAT. IT'S MUCH MORE ABOUT JOBS FOR THEM ON MAIN STREET, ABOUT THE PRICE OF GAS HAS BEEN A BIG, YOU KNOW, BENEFIT TO CONSUMERS SOME FROM THE CONSUMER PERSPECTIVE, NOT THAT BIG A DEAL.

TAUSCHE: BUT WE'RE NOT REALLY SEEING CONSUMERS SPEND THE MONEY THAT THEY'RE SAVING ON GASOLINE ELSEWHERE IN THE ECONOMY. WHAT NEEDS TO TRIGGER THAT AND WHAT ARE YOU SEEING?

STUMPF: ISN'T THAT INTERESTING. IN FACT, CONSUMERS ARE SAVING MORE TODAY. 7% OR 8% OF THEIR PAYCHECK AND YOU ARE RIGHT A LOT OF THE GAS SAVINGS HAS GONE INTO THEIR POCKETBOOK TO PAYING DOWN DEBTS. THEY'RE JUST A BIT CAUSIOUS

TAUSCHE: WE'RE WATCHING WITH GREAT INTEREST IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS FOR THE FEDERAL RESERVE MEETING IN THE MIDDLE OF DECEMBER WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR INTEREST RATES? WE'VE HEARD WELLS FARGO POSITIONING TO BE LOWER FOR LONGER.

STUMPF: CORRECT.

TAUSCHE: WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PATH WILL BE?

STUMPF: I THINK IT WILL MOVE. IN FACT, TODAY THE DEBATE HAS BECOME BIGGER THAN THE RATE. I THINK THERE'S A 75% CONFIDENCE OR WHATEVER OR PROBABILITY THAT THEY'LL RAISE. I THINK THEY WILL. I THINK AFTER THAT ON THE SHORT END IT WILL BE MUCH MORE DATA-DEPENDENT. BUT WHEN WE SAY LOWER FOR LONGER, THAT'S PROBABLY MORE ON THE LONG-TERM SIDE, LONG-TERM RIGHT SIDE, WHICH HAS MUCH MORE OF A GLOBAL IMPACT.

TAUSCHE: SO HOW ARE YOU REPOSITIONING YOUR ASSETS. WE'VE SEEN YOU MOVE INTO INTEREST RATE SWAPS BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE SOME REAL ADJUSTMENTS WHEN YOUR OUTLOOK CHANGES THAT QUICKLY.

STUMPF: YEAH. BUT WE TAKE A LONG-TERM VIEW OF THE BUSINESS. WE'VE BEEN THROUGH LOTS OF DIFFERENT RATE CYCLES, EXPANSIONS, CONTRACTIONS. WE'RE TODAY THE LARGEST LENDER IN THE COUNTRY. I MEAN OUR FIRST CALL ON OUR LOWQUITITY IS TO MAKE LOANS TO OUR CUSTOMERS. WE DID AN ACQUISITION YET TO BE CLOSED WITH GE SOME OF THEIR PORTFOLIOS SO WE TAKE A ALONG-TERM VIEW OF THIS.

TAUSCHE: WHAT DOES THE CONSUMER DO? IS 25 BASIS POINTS ENOUGH TO PUT A CHILL IN THE MORTGAGE MARKET OR THE AUTO LOAN MARKET?

STUMPF: NO, NO. IN FACT, THE SHORT RATES REALLY HAVE LITTLE INFLUENCE ON MORTGAGE RATES. BECAUSE MOST MORTGAGE RATES ARE LONGER RETURN DATED ASSETS. FRANKLY -- WHEN I GOT MY FIRST MORTGAGE IN IN 1976 IT WAS 8.5%. MY SECOND IN 1980 WAS 11.5%. IF YOU'RE YOU'RE AGE, UNDER 40, WHICH YOU ARE MUCH YOUNGER THAN 40 YOU THINK 4% OR 5% IS AVERAGE. IT IS NOT. THESE ARE GREAT RATES.

TAUSCHE: THEY'RE LOW BY HISTORICAL STANDARDS BUT WE'RE ALSO SEEING A SHIFT IN THE ENERGY MARKET WHICH YOU ALLUDED TO. THAT IS EXPECTED TO BE LOWER FOR LONGER, THE PRICE OF OIL. HOW CONFIDENT ARE YOU THAT YOURPORTFOLIO CAN WITH STAND THESE PRICES?

STUMPF: FIRST OF ALL, LET'S TALK ABOUT GENERALLY. AT THE COUNTRY LEVEL LOW ENERGY PRICES IS AN ADVANTAGE BECAUSE WE'RE STILL A NET IMPORTER OF ENERGY, SO THIS IS A GREAT THING FOR CONSUMERS. AND, SURE, IT'S HARD FOR THOSE IN THE ENERGY PATCH THAT ARE TIED DIRECTLY TO THE BUSINESS. BUT SECONDLY, THESE COMPANIES ARE FIGURING OUT NOT ALL WILL SURVIVE AND ONLY 2% OF OUR LOAN OUTSTANDINGS ARE RELATED TO ENERGY AND ONLY ABOUT HALF OF THOSE ARE IN E & P. SO WE HAVE SOME LARGE COMPANIES SOME MIDSTREAM AND SO FORTH. I'M NOT TRYING TO UNDERSTATE IT BUT WE'RE MUCH MORE AFFECTED BY WHAT'S HAPPENING WITH REAL ESTATE, FOR EXAMPLE, WHICH IS 30% OF OUR PORTFOLIO.

TAUSCHE: BUT YOU WITHHELD RESERVE RELEASES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YEARS LARGELY BECAUSE OF ENERGY. SO YOU HAVE TO EXPECT THAT THERE WILL BE SOME CRACKS IN THE CREDIT CYCLE.

STUMPF: ABSOLUTELY. THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT THAT. BUT WE DIDN'T WITHHOLD RESERVE RELEASES FOR THAT ISSUE SPECIFICALLY. WE JUST HAD RELEASED FOR SO LONG AND NOW WE'RE SEEING, YOU KNOW, A MORE NORMALIZATION IN THAT AREA.

TAUSCHE: WHAT ABOUT CAPITAL? HAVING HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN CAPITAL AS A BUFFER, DOES THAT MAKE YOU MORE CONFIDENT AGAINST POTENTIAL DEFAULTS?

STUMPF: WELL, THE INDUSTRY HAS LIKE MORE THAN DOUBLED ITS CAPITAL. WE SURELY HAVE IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS. SO THAT'S ONE OF THE STRENGTHS OF AMERICA IS THE VERY STRONG, DEEP, TRANSPARENT FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY. THAT'S A HUGE BENEFIT. AND OUR CAPITAL, AT OUR LEVELS TODAY PLUS OUR LIQUIDITY, MAKES US SO STRONG AND THAT'S REALLY HELPFUL FOR AMERICA. SO WE HAVE MONEY AVAILABLE TO LEND. WE CAN HELP CONSUMERS, HELP BUSINESSES, HELP FARMERS, AND RANCHERS.

TAUSCHE: WILL AN ADDITIONAL $60 BILLION IN TOTAL LOSS ABSORBING CAPITAL MAKE YOU EVEN SAFER? WHAT IS YOUR VIEW?

STUMPF: WELL THAT, NOW, YOU'RE GETTING UNDER MY NECK A LITTLE BIT, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT'S SOMETHING THAT WE REALLY NEEDED, BUT WE'RE A LARGE COMPANY. IT'S WHAT WE'VE BEEN ASKED TO DO. I THINK THAT WE HAVE ENOUGH CAPITAL THE WAY IT IS, BUT IF LOSS ABSORBING CAPITAL IS REQUIRED THROUGH DEBT, WE'RE GOING TO RAISE IT. WE WILL BE ABLE TO MANAGE IT. BUT I CAN'T TELL YOU SITTING HERE THAT I THOUGHT THAT WAS NECESSARY.

TAUSCHE: WHERE ARE YOU FEELING PRESSURE FROM WASHINGTON? CERTAINLY SOME OF THE ANTI-BANK RHETORIC HAS SHIFTED A LITTLE BIT, BUT ON EITHER SIDE OF THE AISLE, THERE SEEMS TO BE DIFFERENT TACTS. ON ONE SIDE OF THE AISLE YOU SEE A PROPOSED SCALING BACK OF DODD-FRANK. ON THE OTHER, A PROPOSED REINSTATEMENT OF GLASS-STEAGALL. WHERE DO YOU SEE THIS PLAYING OUT?

STUMPF: THERE'S A LOT OF A VIEWS. THAT'S ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS ABOUT AMERICA IS PEOPLE CAN SHARE THEIR VIEWS. BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE HAVE THEIR DIFFERING VIEWS. THE BEST THING WE CAN DO, KAYLA, IS JUST DO OUR JOB REALLY WELL, HELP AMERICANS SUCCEED FINANCIALLY AND THE REST WILL TAKE CARE OF ITSELF.

TAUSCHE: WE HAD THOUGHT POTENTIALLY THAT WELLS FARGO HAD DODGED MUCH OF THE ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS THAT WERE COMING OUT OF THE DOJ. BUT NOW WE'RE HEARING ABOUT POTENTIAL ENFORCEMENT FROM THE OCC AND THE SAN FRANCISCO FED OVER CROSS-SELLING, WHICH HAS BEEN A STRONG POINT, A BRIGHT SPOT FOR WELLS FARGO. I KNOW YOU CAN'T TALK ABOUT THE CASE SPECIFICALLY, BUT TALK ABOUT THE CULTURE AT THE BANK AND WHETHER YOU THINK THAT THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE DONE TO SOLVE THAT ISSUE.

STUMPF: WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I'M PROUD OF OUR CULTURE, I'M PROUD OF OUR PEOPLE. OUR WHOLE BUSINESS MODEL AND THE REASON THEY GET UP IN THE MORNING AND GO TO WORK IS TO SERVE CUSTOMERS. HELP THEM SUCCEED FINANCIALLY. WHEN THEY DO WELL, WE DO WELL. AND EVERYTHING THAT WE DO EVERY MORNING IS ALIGNED UP TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN. SO WHAT'S GOOD FOR OUR CUSTOMER IS GOOD FOR US. AND WE DRAW VERY BRIGHT LINES AROUND THAT.

TAUSCHE: TALK ABOUT DEALS. BECAUSE YOU'VE ADDED MORE AND MORE PORTFOLIOS OVER THE YEARS. THAT IS ONE BIG SOURCE OF GROWTH FOR THE COMPANY. IS THERE ANYTHING MORE THAT GE HAS THAT YOU WANT? OR ANY COMPANIES OUT THERE THAT YOU THINK THAT WOULD BE A GOOD FIT?

STUMPF: WELL, WE HAVE A LOT TO SAY GRACE OVER RIGHT NOW. WE NEVER SAY NEVER, BUT OUR FIRST LINE OF BUSINESS, OUR FIRST CALL ON CAPITAL AND CALL ON LIQUIDITY IS HELP OUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS. WE LOVE WHAT WE DO WITH GE AND WE HAVE A LOT OF OPPORTUNITY JUST IN ORGANIC GROWTH.

TAUSCHE: WHAT ABOUT C.I.T.? THAT IS THE ONE THAT ALWAYS COMES UP IN THE ANALYST COMMUNITY.

STUMPF: AND OF COURSE, THERE'S NO COMMENT. BUT JUST THINK ABOUT ORGANIC GROWTH. WE LOVE THAT. TODAY WE'RE THE LARGEST LENDER IN AMERICA. WE ARE THE LARGEST GATHERER OF RETAIL DEPOSITS. WE HAVE MORE CORE DEPOSITS. WE LOVE THAT BUSINESS.

TAUSCHE: IT'S INTERESTING THAT WELLS FARGO IS THE ONLY BIG BANK THAT'S BASED HERE IN THE BAY AREA. AS WE'RE HAVING A CONVERSATION ABOUT A POTENTIAL TALENT DRAIN. A BRAIN DRAIN FOR THE BIG BANKS. YOU GUYS HAVE THE MOST TRADITIONAL BANKING BUSINESS MODEL. WHAT DOES RECRUITMENT LOOK LIKE RIGHT NOW?

STUMPF: WELL, IT'S ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD. PEOPLE WANT TO WORK FOR WELLS FARGO. WE HAVE 265,000 TEAM MEMBERS. WHEN WE OPEN UP A JOB, WE GET TONS OF APPLICANTS. THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO WORK AND A GREAT PLACE TO BUILD A CAREER. I MEAN, I STARTED OUT AS A REPO PERSON, YOU KNOW, 35 YEARS AGO. MY AVERAGE – OUR AVERAGE TENURE OF MY 10 DIRECT REPORTS IS 28 YEARS WITH THE COMPANY. LAST YEAR WE PROMOTED 40,000 TEAM MEMBERS TO NEW JOBS WITH MORE RESPONSIBILITY, MORE COMPENSATION, AND MORE OPPORTUNITY TO GROW.

TAUSCHE: ONE OF THE PEOPLE THAT YOU HAVE PROMOTED THAT HAS GOTTEN A LOT OF PRESS RECENTLY AND FOR GOOD REASON IS TIM SLOAN.

STUMPF: AND FOR GOOD REASON.

TAUSCHE: WHO IS YOUR COO AND PRESIDENT. FORMERLY CFO, STILL THE HEAD OF COMMERCIAL BANKING. LARGELY THE SUCCESSOR TO YOU WHEN YOU DECIDE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO STEP DOWN. WHAT IS THE PATH? WHAT IS THE STRATEGY FOR SUCCESSION AT WELLS FARGO?

STUMPF: WELL, WE TEND TO THINK ABOUT TALENT HOLISTICALLY. SO EVERY YEAR, WE DO A BOTTOMS-UP TALENT REVIEW OF ALL OF OUR TALENT. I PRESENT IT TO OUR HRC, OUR HUMAN RESOURCES COMMITTEE OF THE BOARD PLUS THE FULL BOARD. AND THEN WITH RESPECT TO TIM'S SITUATION, HE IS A TERRIFIC LEADER AND IS NOW A CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER. I STILL HAVE THREE YEARS LEFT BEFORE I GO OVER THE AGE LIMIT OF AGE 65 AT THE END OF 2018. I'M FULLY ENGAGED. I'VE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED AND IT'S JUST WONDERFUL TO WORK WITH TIM AS A GREAT PARTNER.

TAUSCHE: WELL, IN NINE YEARS YOU'VE NEARLY DOUBLED THE MARKET CAP, NEARLY DOUBLED THE TOTAL ASSETS THAT WELLS FARGO HAS AND MAINTAINED A PRETTY GOOD REPUTATION IN THE MEAN TIME, JOHN.

STUMPF: WELL, IT'S A TEAM SPORT. THANK YOU FOR THAT ACCOLADE.

TAUSCHE: JOHN, WE APPRECIATE YOU BEING HERE WITH US.

STUMPF: IT'S NICE TO TALK TO YOU.

TAUSCHE: JOHN STUMPF, THE CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF WELLS FARGO.

About CNBC:

With CNBC in the U.S., CNBC in Asia Pacific, CNBC in Europe, Middle East and Africa, CNBC World and CNBC HD , CNBC is the recognized world leader in business news and provides real-time financial market coverage and business information to approximately 371 million homes worldwide, including more than 100 million households in the United States and Canada. CNBC also provides daily business updates to 400 million households across China. The network's 15 live hours a day of business programming in North America (weekdays from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. ET) is produced at CNBC's global headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and includes reports from CNBC News bureaus worldwide. CNBC at night features a mix of new reality programming, CNBC's highly successful series produced exclusively for CNBC and a number of distinctive in-house documentaries.

CNBC also has a vast portfolio of digital products which deliver real-time financial market news and information across a variety of platforms. These include CNBC.com, the online destination for global business; CNBC PRO, the premium, integrated desktop/mobile service that provides real-time global market data and live access to CNBC global programming; and a suite of CNBC Mobile products including the CNBC Real-Time iPhone and iPad Apps.

Members of the media can receive more information about CNBC and its programming on the NBC Universal Media Village Web site at http://www.nbcumv.com/mediavillage/networks/cnbc/.