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Wells Fargo Boosts Support of RIAs; Parent Predicts Lost Revenue from Reforms

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St. Louis-based Wells Fargo Advisors says its independent brokerage arm is expanding and realigning its supervision team “in anticipation of continued growth.” The number of advisors affiliating with Wells Fargo’s independent broker-dealer has grown 24% over the past 18 months, according to the company. This group now includes 886 financial advisors with $40 billion in client assets.

The broader Wells Fargo Advisor group includes 15,102 financial advisors and 5,094 licensed bankers with $1.1 trillion in assets under management.

“We believe that our unprecedented growth [in the independent channel] is a direct result of the way we deliver full-service investment services through advisors who help meet the financial needs of their clients in their markets,” said John Peluso, president of Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network(or WFAFN), in a statement. “To sustain that rate of growth, it’s important for us to deliver personal service to each practice while providing easy access to Wells Fargo’s technology and comprehensive product platform,” he said.

WFAFN’s supervision team includes a director and three team leaders who manage the firm’s network of regional supervisors.

In addition, the network’s San Francisco-based parent company, Wells Fargo, has just released financial reports that estimate the impact of financial regulations enacted by Congress, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

The bank says the reforms could cost the company $530 million in lost revenue over the second half of 2010.

In its August 9 FORM 10-Q, the company said “these laws and regulations may affect the manner in which we do business and the products and services that we provide, affect or restrict our ability to compete in our current businesses or our ability to enter into or acquire new businesses, reduce or limit our revenue in businesses or impose additional fees, assessments or taxes on us, intensify the regulatory supervision of us and the financial services industry, and adversely affect our business operations or have other negative consequences.”

Specifically, Regulation E, adopted in 2009, could reduce overdraft and other 2010 fee revenue by about $225 million in third quarter and $275 million in fourth quarter.

Also, the company says the enactment of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 should affect its ability to change interest rates and assess certain fees on card accounts.

It estimates implementation of the Card Act regulations could have a net impact of $30 million in third quarter 2010.

In 2009, Wells Fargo had total sales of $88.7 billion. Equity analysts estimate that this year’s revenue should be $84.9 billion for the full year.

In July, equity analysts estimated that the Morgan Stanley would lose up to 20% of its profits due to the financial reforms and that Bank of America might have a 16% drop in its profits.

These effects are linked to the banning of certain activities, such as banks putting their own capital at risk in hedge funds, private equity firms and through proprietary trades.

John Sullivan, editor of Investment Advisor, contributed to this report.


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