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Wells Shifts Tax-Withholding on Commissions

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Wells Fargo says it has moved to resolve an issue affecting as many as 11,000 financial advisors who joined Wells Fargo Advisors after the bank acquired Wachovia Securities.

Beginning in January 2010, some 11,000 legacy Wachovia advisors automatically had 25 percent of their commissions withheld for taxes, regardless of their tax bracket, according to Dow Jones; in August, though, these employee advisors were able to opt in to a new tax-withholding system that lets them set a withholding level more in line with their tax bracket.

In the first of two monthly installments, advisors’ pay will include 45 percent of their average monthly payout from the past three months, while the second will include the rest of that month’s payout.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo Advisors says this “solution was well received with over 30 percent [of advisors] opting in for the balance of 2010, and the rest will have the opportunity to enroll for 2011.”

For advisors who had lower-than-expected pay because of this arrangement, Wells Fargo has offered them a one-year loan with 3 percent interest.

In the second quarter of 2010, Wells Fargo said that the number of its financial advisors stood at 15,102, down about 4 percent from the previous quarter. The bank is now behind both Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in terms of the size of its advisor force.

However, the firm says the number of advisors affiliated with its independent broker-dealer has grown 24 percent over the past 18 months. This group now includes 886 financial advisors with $40 billion in client assets.

Wells Fargo Advisors also includes some 5,094 licensed bankers.


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