Wells Fargo Advisors Shuffles Field Leaders, Creates New Region
(Updates with comments from divisional director.)
Wells Fargo Advisors is shuffling senior managers and creating a new geographic sales region in its private client group in an attempt to “position [its] field leaders to be closer [its] to advisors and clients,” according to a memo sent to its roughly 11,000 brokers late Thursday.
Three regional president positions have been left open as a result of the shifts, which come as the parent company continues to reorganize top executives and motivational sales strategies in the wake of the fake-account scandal at its flagship consumer bank that has tarnished the bank’s image since last September.
Under the new organization at the brokerage unit, Wells has added an “Atlanta” region to its 11 existing regions and shifted two regional president to new positions.
Mary Zimmer, who was head of the Northern region, has been named to a newly created role as “director of diverse client segments,” according to the memo signed by WFA’s divisional directors, John Alexander and Richard Getzoff. Zimmer will focus on recruiting minority-group, women and next-gen brokers to fulfill her mandate, said a person familiar with the philosophy behind the reorganization.
Zimmer will report to Heather Hunt-Ruddy, a former regional president who was promoted in January to oversee sales strategy and training at Wells Fargo Advisors.
In other moves, Midwest region president Keith Vanderveen will transfer to a similar position overseeing Florida, according to the memo. He replaces Tony Saponaro, who is retiring after more than 20 years with Wells Fargo and predecessor firms. He and Zimmer will continue to oversee their current regions until replacements are named, according to the memo.
It also said that a search is on for a leader of the new Atlanta unit, which will encompass branches in states beyond Georgia. Bill Rogers will continue as president of a slimmed-down Southern region that will not include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Pensacola complex and Tennessee, the memo said.
“We have put great thought into how we can best streamline our field leaders to drive more local empowerment and enable local decision-making by adding new regions,” Getzoff said in an emailed statement. “We saw an immediate opportunity to do this in our southern region, which has historically been one of the largest regions in the firm.”
The creation of a new “diversity” chief follows Wells Fargo Advisors $35.5 million settlement in January of a race discrimination lawsuit. In the aftermath of the fake-account scandal, the bank company has been hit with a range of charges, including Philadelphia’s claim that African American and Latino clients were sold high-cost mortgages, and continues to reach settlements in other product areas. Last week it agreed to refund $80 million to customers who unknowingly were sold auto insurance by bankers.
“As we position our firm to best meet the changing needs and demographics of our clients, we see a great opportunity to evolve from a position of strength in tapping Mary Zimmer for her new role,” Getzoff said in the statement. “As the director of Diverse Client Segments, she will apply her long-held passions for attracting and supporting diversity.”
The regional sales changes at Wells Fargo Advisors come as rival wirehouses have centralized and cut layers of field management and support staff. Morgan Stanley eliminated two divisions in June, Merrill trimmed its regions to six from 10 in March and UBS Wealth Americas last summer streamlined its operations.