Wells Fargo Head of Auto Strategy and Senior Vice President Christine Brown began her career as a personal banker underwriting auto loans. After moving to other lines of the business for 15 years, she found herself back in the auto finance industry in 2019 when she was appointed to her current position.
As head of auto strategy, Brown strives to improve Wells Fargo’s employee and customer experience, she told Auto Finance News.
Brown did not expect to be back in a career in auto finance, but she is now responsible for the bank’s auto strategy as the industry transitions via technological innovation, she said.
“Now couldn’t be a more transformational time to be in the auto industry,” Brown said. “The pace of change is rapid, and embracing new technologies will enable solutions to better meet the needs of consumers, manufacturers, dealers and finance companies.
Brown has been with Wells Fargo since 1997, starting as a market growth and development consultant. She also has held leadership positions across wholesale bank and home mortgage business lines and in the bank’s corporate strategy, according to LinkedIn.
In the third quarter, Wells Fargo had an outstanding auto portfolio of $49.9 billion, a decrease of 3.3% sequentially and 8.4% year over year, Wells Fargo Chief Executive Charlie Scharf said on the bank’s Q3 earnings call last month.
AFN spoke with Brown about her career, her approach to leadership and her thoughts on trends in the auto finance industry. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.
Auto Finance News: What are your company goals, in about 10 words or less?
Christine Brown: Continue to offer and build solutions that best serve our customers’ financial needs.
AFN: What do you think is the most underrated lending trend?
CB: Not necessarily an underrated trend, but a real concern is how do we ensure consumers who need access to vehicles have affordable solutions and continue to benefit the economy. With car prices at all-time highs, higher interest rates and contraction in credit, we need innovation to ensure customers across all demographics have access to reliable transportation to enable their lives.
AFN: What is your favorite piece of leadership advice ever received?
CB: Be likeable. A piece of seemingly simple advice from one of my first managers was that “people do business with and surround themselves with people they like and trust.” I embrace this in my day-to-day by just being me or my authentic self, leaning into my differences, which hasn’t always been easy as a woman in the financial services industry. I empower my team to do the same. Utilizing the full tapestry of our talent, we all grow and succeed together.
AFN: Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
CB: A plethora of mentors and colleagues have influenced my career. I refer to them as the village. In a constant pursuit of finding the next challenge, I’ve always sought out roles with opportunity to make meaningful change, often finding out about the roles from the village. Be open to change and transformation; this is where the most exciting work happens and where you can truly shape the future state.
AFN: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
CB: There are likely no surprises when it comes to what my team knows about me. In making sure I protect authenticity and transparency, I often offer my own professional and personal journeys as examples. Perhaps, though, if I had to choose a story, I once competed in an amateur jiu-jitsu match and won!