Makeover at Wells Fargo Advisors well-received

The wealth management network again reduces its corporate structure as part of realignment

Aug 20, 2019 @ 2:26 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Wells Fargo Advisors continued a reorganization of its wealth management business, cutting about a dozen market manager positions last week. And for some, it couldn't have come sooner.

"Wells Fargo Advisors has been top heavy with management and the back office for years, and as the firm made big acquisitions, it hired more people instead of modernizing the back office," said one adviser, who asked not to be named. "This is just one more small step to cut waste and duplicative management."

The changes leave Wells Fargo with 91 markets, which are also called "complexes" internally at the firm. Managers who have been cut will be able to apply for similar positions that are open, return to working as a financial adviser or retire.

"The big firms need to cut costs and staff to make money, it's overdue," said Danny Sarch, an industry recruiter. "With technology, it's easier to monitor more advisers for less money. In the old days, managers had to walk the office or branch to keep an eye on the brokers."

At the same time the cutbacks were announced, the company said that those working in wealth management in bank branches would fall under the supervision of market managers.

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The firm said a year ago it was embarking on a $4 billion cost-cutting plan that will fold its bank brokerage channel into the larger wirehouse channel.

Then in May, Wells Fargo Advisors reduced the number of regions its financial advisers work under from 21 to 14. The firm's roughly 12,000 advisers who work in the firm's employee channel work within those regions, and the newly reworked "markets" are essentially subsets of those regions.

"What's really exciting is that we now have common leadership in a particular geography of Wells Fargo Advisors," said Rich Getzoff, head of advisor-led business and in charge of the 14 regions, in an interview. "That makes us much more efficient, in our view."

It's been a time of change for Wells Fargo Advisors. Its parent, the giant bank Wells Fargo & Co., has been dealing with a variety of embarrassing scandals and problems since September 2016 and hundreds of advisers have left the firm since.

In a reshuffling of senior management, Wells Fargo & Co. said at the end of July that Jim Hays, a 14-year veteran of the firm, would become the new head of Wells Fargo Advisors.

Mr. Hays replaced David Kowach, who moved to head community banking.

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