Janine S. Creager
August 1, 2008
When Pat Richards first moved to Utah in the early 70s, officer positions in the banking industry were rare for women. Although she was well qualified, only one financial institution, First Security Bank, now Wells Fargo, even extended an interview.
Oh, how times have changed.
Now as the senior vice president and senior regional manager for The Private Bank of Wells Fargo, and the first female recipient of the Utah Bankers Association’s “Distinguished Banker Award” last year, Pat Richards has no need to prove herself anymore.
An Illinois native, Pat Richards attended Northwestern University where she majored in economics. She later worked at First National Bank of Chicago, completed a management-training program and attended night school to earn her MBA. But it was visiting some college friends in Utah that would alter the course of her life.
“I made a fateful vacation to Utah, and absolutely fell in love with the mountains,” she says. “I thought I was on my way to California, but I never got there. I just loved the place.”
Richards began her Utah banking career in 1973 in the Trust Department of First Security Bank, and then became president of Business Financial Services in 1996. Following the merger of First Security and Wells Fargo in 2000, she became the managing director of the Northwest Region for Institutional Trust Services. A few years later, she had the opportunity to make the move to private banking.
“My true love is working with wealth management for individuals and families,” she says. “It’s so rewarding [and] intellectually challenging.”
If Richards were known only for her contributions in the banking industry, she could certainly be counted as one of Utah’s most accomplished women for that alone. But her talents and contributions are widespread. She sang with the Utah Symphony Chorus for many years, and, as chair of the board of trustees of the Utah Symphony and Opera, Richards is committed to giving her time and talent to the community at large.
“It’s the most rewarding thing I have ever done. It’s a wonderful organization and deserves community support to keep it strong and vibrant,” she says. Being involved in the community in general, however, is more than just making contacts and doing good.
“You always learn something, you meet someone, and it is good for your spirit to exercise those giving muscles,” she says.
In what spare time they have, Pat Richards and her husband, William K. Nichols, an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center, enjoy hiking, skiing, sailing and bird watching. They recently traveled to Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, where they viewed more than 450 different kinds of birds. Yet, on a day-to-day basis, Richards admits that her time is divided between music and banking.
“This has been a spectacular year. One thing that has meant a lot to me is [the award from] the Utah Bankers Association,” she says. “It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by your peers. It was like, ‘Okay, maybe I’ve really done something for women. Maybe my example will open doors for others.’”
Considering the barriers she’s broken through already, we’re guessing she’s right.