Wells Fargo Parts Ways with Veteran Recruiting Executive
(Story updated with response from Wells executive.)
A veteran Wells Fargo Advisors executive who served in senior recruiting roles over his 28-year career with the firm and its predecessors has left, according to multiple sources familiar with the move.
Elmer Thornton “Chip” Walker, who most recently had the role of field strategy and execution head, will not be replaced, the sources said.
Heather Hunt-Ruddy, head of client experience and growth at Wells Fargo Advisors, and Walker’s boss, said his departure relates to the restructuring.
“Wells Fargo is at the beginning of a multiyear effort that will consist of a broad range of actions to make us more efficient and create a better working experience for our employees, make it easier for clients to do business with us, enable us to continue to invest in our communities and improve our performance for shareholders,” she wrote in an e-mailed statement. “Included in that effort is reducing the levels of management across Wells Fargo and increasing the number of people reporting to each manager—often referred to as spans and layers.”
Walker until 2015 had been in charge of recruiting and branch manager productivity under former Wells Advisors head David Kowach, and briefly sat on the wealth unit’s operating committee until Kowach shifted to a senior retail banking role last July and was replaced by Jim Hays. Walker was the architect of an aggressive recruiting strategy that has at times included payment to outside recruiters of 10% of a prospect’s trailing-12-month revenue, above the standard 6%, according to one headhunter.
Walker, who had worked at Wheat, First Securities and Everen Securities before they were absorbed by Wells Fargo, did not return a call for comment left with a family member about his departure.
Wells Fargo has been reorganizing company-wide under new executives as it seeks to change its high-pressure sales culture following disclosure four years ago of fake account and billing scandals and more than $3 billion of fines imposed by federal authorities.
The bank in June hired Barry Sommers, a longtime executive at J.P. Morgan Chase and Bear Stearns, to head its wealth and investment management division that includes Wells Fargo Advisors. He is expected to soon unveil major policy and organizational changes, according to bank sources.
-Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.