Memo: Wells Fargo Wealth President Jay Welker to Retire
Jay Welker, president of Well Fargo & Co’s wealth management division and of its private bank, will retire at the end of March, according to an internal memo reviewed by AdvisorHub.
The unit he oversaw is part of Wells’ Wealth and Investment Management division, which has largely avoided the investigations and regulatory settlements that have engulfed the San Francisco-based bank since it said two years ago that retail bankers had opened thousands of unasked-for bank and credit card accounts in order to meet sales goals.
But Wells Fargo last March disclosed that its board was assessing whether parts of the wealth division had too aggressively cross-marketed investment products, “in response to inquiries from federal government agencies.”
In August, Wells moved the bank branch-based brokerage business that was part of Welker’s private bank domain to its Wells Fargo Advisors business of full-service advisors overseen by David Kowach.
“The Wall Street Journal” subsequently reported that the bank was investigating complaints of gender bias by Welker, who reportedly told some executives that “women should be at home taking care of their children.” Wells spokespeople have declined to comment on the report.
Jonathan Weiss, head of the Wealth and Investment Management Division, made no reference to any difficulties in announcing Welker’s planned departure.
“As the head of Wealth Management, Jay has led his team in building a formidable business based on a model that centers on clients,” he wrote in an email to division employees on Tuesday. ”Wealth Management’s holistic, team-based approach to client services is a hallmark of Jay’s, which grew out of his desire to ensure clients are heard, their goals are understood, and their relationship managers and advisors are empowered to deliver the best possible service.”
Welker will remain at the bank for another four months “to ensure a successful transition,” the email said, without elaborating on whether the bank is seeking a successor.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Kathleen Leary confirmed the email, but declined to elaborate on the reasons for Welker’s departure ahead of the typical retirement age of 65 for senior bank executives.
Welker joined Wells Fargo in 1988 as head of its commercial banking offices in California, and left in 1997 to become a division president of U.S. Trust Co. He returned in 2003 as head of wealth management, according to Weiss’s memo.
The wealth unit oversaw $240 billion of client assets as of the end of September, flat with a year earlier and below the $1.6 trillion of client assets at the Wells Fargo Advisors business run by Kowach, according to the company’s earnings report.