Wells Fargo Advisors Embraces More Execs from Private Bank
In another sign of big banks’ efforts to more effectively cross-sell loans, banking and investment services to wealthy clients of its brokerage and private banking businesses, Wells Fargo Advisors has added three private banking executives to its operating committee.
Wells in October said it would integrate its Private Bank and Abbot Downing family office operations into the 13,000-advisor Wells Fargo Advisors business, which has lost more than 1,000 advisors in the wake of the company’s fake-account scandals. But it said details of the integration and new management assignments would develop in 2021.
Caldwell-Meeks and Degler have the roles of national practice leaders for trust and banking, respectively, to very wealthy clients within Wells’ Wealth & Investment Management division under the new organization. Degler is responsible for “growth in banking services for our $10 million-plus clients,” according to her web biography, while Meeks—previously head of fiduciary services in the private bank’s western region—”communicates the business vision and …strategic guidance” for delivering and executing trust solutions.
Taback has the new title of head of high net worth and ultra-high net worth investments, still leading the private bank and Abbot Downing family office investment teams but also “supporting our financial advisors in serving our largest and most complex clients,” according to his web biography.
Cross-selling bank services to wealthy investment clients is now a given at firms like Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch, whose advisor team pages include bank and trust liaisons, UBS Wealth Management Americas and Morgan Stanley. But the cross-selling issue is particularly sensitive at Wells, whose hyper-aggressive sales quotas and incentive strategies have been cited for its account scandals.
The bank no longer discloses the average number of products and referrals made by and to its financial advisors, once a metric it flaunted to its own investors on quarterly earnings calls.
However, Wells has folded the private bank and Abbot Downing into the advisor unit as part of the company’s broader efforts under new CEO Charlie Scharf and Wealth and Investment Management head Barry Sommers to lower costs and better manage risk. (Wells Fargo & Co.’s shares soared on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reported that the Federal Reserve will soon lift an asset-cap hurdle it imposed to penalize the bank for its aggressive sales culture.)
The migration of the private bankers to the brokerage unit’s management committee reverses the exodus of several Wells Fargo Advisors’ leaders to other parts of the banking giant. Operating committee members Kathy Barney and Andy Byer, respectively CFO and head of advice and planning at the Advisors unit, migrated to Wells’ mainstay retail branch banking division, the “community bank,” last year. And veteran compliance and risk control executive Jim McHale shifted from the brokerage business, which is headquartered in St. Louis, to run compliance for the entire Wealth and Investment Management division, based in Charlotte, N.C., in early 2020.
Michael Liersch, an expert on behavioral characteristics of very wealthy people who was previously with J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch, joined Wells last summer to assume Byer’s responsibilities, and is on the operating committee of its Wealth and Investment Management division.