From the January 2011 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Wells Rolls Out FA Retirement Program

An update on Wells Fargo’s retirement programs.

Wells Fargo Advisors launched a new program for its financial advisors specializing in retirement plans with the aim of enhancing the support they extend to retirement-plan clients, the company said in late 2010.

The Retirement Plan Advisor Program, or RPAP, will “ensure we have the right service models in place for advisors and their clients,” said Kenneth Pardue, senior vice president and director of retirement-plan consulting at WFA, which includes 15,000 financial advisors.

“Also, with some of the best advisors in the business, we want them to be well supported and engaged with the home office so they can maintain their position in the marketplace,” explained Pardue, in a phone interview on Monday.

The Wells Fargo Advisors retirement-plan program now includes some 250 advisors. To participate in it, financial advisors must have more than 10 qualified retirement plans, more than $40 million in assets under management in these plans and industry-recognized designations, such as CIMA, CFP, CPA, CEBS, CRPS, CRPC or CFA.

The 200-plus advisors in the program generally have more than half of their AUM in qualified retirement plans, Pardue says.

The program includes tools and resources, a schedule of conference calls, and national and regional meetings to help advisors address recent legislative and regulatory changes in the retirement-plan market, such as fee disclosures and fiduciary responsibilities.

“The main thing we are emphasizing is the need to build a product around a good service model that includes investment monitoring, education, vendor search and benchmarking for our plans,” said Pardue. “We want to make sure that each advisor has a clear service model for the client and that it is fee transparent.”

Some components of the program have been in place for some time, the executive says. However, with the integration of A.G. Edwards, Wachovia and Wells Fargo into one firm, “a lot of resources had to be dedicated to this [integration] and now are able to have the internal resources we need to [put a new retirement program in focus] now and are very excited about it,” Pardue said. “We’re really pulling it all together.”

In other news, Wells Fargo issued a joint statement with Citigroup on Friday regarding their legal dispute over Wells’ acquisition of Wachovia in October 2008.

According to the statement, Wells Fargo will pay Citigroup $100 million.

“We are glad to put this matter behind us, and we look forward to our two institutions working together constructively in the future,” both companies said in a press release.

In terms of the advisor headcount at Wells Fargo, the bank says it had 15,088 financial advisors as of the third quarter, down slightly from 15,102 in the second quarter.

This keeps it in the No. 3 slot, behind Morgan Stanley with 18,119 FAs and Merrill Lynch with 15,340. In addition, the company now has 4,569 licensed bankers vs. 5,094 in the prior period, as well as $1.27 trillion in total assets under management.

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