Wells Fargo to Merge Wealth Management Sales Regions
(Story was updated on March 11 to say that Wells is folding its Abbot Downing family office unit into its private bank.)
Wells Fargo Advisors is continuing to pare the structure of its wealth management businesses, consolidating the 12 regions of its private client group into eight and giving broader management sway to fewer executives.
While less eventful than the company’s decision two weeks ago to sell its asset management business, the shifts have the same goal: To streamline businesses and reduce costs as the banking giant emerges from regulatory shackles and fines related to an overaggressive sales culture created by now-deposed senior executives.
The shifts, which will occur over several months, follow a reorganization of Wells Fargo Advisors less than two years ago that eliminated eight regions and senior field positions. They come as the wealth unit struggles to replace more than 2,000 advisors net who have left since Wells acknowledged in 2016 that bankers had created fake banking and credit card accounts to meet sales quotas.
“We are evolving into a flatter, more nimble organization that brings all our services to clients and makes it easier for them to do business with us and for advisors to support clients in doing so,” Wells spokeswoman Shea Leordeanu said in an email. “We want to make sure our advisors, who are in front of clients every single day, are in a position to deliver seamlessly the services their clients want and need and to get answers quickly.”
Under the new look, sales regions within Wells Fargo Advisors will be renamed divisions, and their heads will relinquish the title of regional president for “division leader.” The eight leaders will have a wider geographic and organizational mandate, overseeing traditional stockbrokers along with the approximately 400 private bankers and family office advisors at Abbot Downing.
Wells is also shuttering Minneapolis-based Abbot Downing as a separate brand that services ultra-high-net-worth families, foundations and endowments, consolidating it into Wells Fargo Private Bank, the company said. “The name may change, but our commitment to the business, our clients and our advisors serving these clients is steadfast,” Barry Sommers, CEO of the bank’s Wealth & Investment Management division, said in a prepared statement issued on March 11.
Abbott Downing was introduced as a separate brand 10 years ago after two legacy family office businesses from banks Wells bought were merged. It was named for a 19th century manufacturer of stagecoaches, the bank’s trademark.
Wells is also eliminating the positions of four private banking regional presidents who worked outside the Advisors unit and of the three presidents of the “private wealth” unit within Advisors who were overseeing ‘private client’ brokers servicing clients with $5 million or more of assets. Wells Advisors announced in January that it will no longer service accounts serving clients outside the U.S., affecting the jobs of dozens of advisors and the manager of its “international” unit.
The new divisions and their leaders are:
- Eastern – Rich Getzoff, currently head of Wells Fargo Advisors’ branch network
- Midwest – Kent Caldwell-Meeks, currently national practice leader of trust sales through advisors
- Northeast – Mike Carroll, currently Metro Northeast regional president in the private client group
- Northern – Susan Mayo, currently head of the private bank’s southwest region
- Pacific North – Kevin Kitchin, current president of the West region in the private wealth unit
- Pacific South – Dave Altshuler, currently president of the Pacific South region in the private client group
- Southeast – Keith Vanderveen, currently president of the Florida region in the private client group
- Southern – Alberto Gonzalez Saint Geours, currently president of the international client segment
Presidents who are losing their positions will need to find other roles “either inside or outside the company,” said a person familiar with the change.
In addition to reorganizing regions, Wells Fargo Advisors will later this year tweak the number of markets, or complexes, it uses to manage the field. Wells has begun the process through attrition, by not filling vacant seats, according to the source.