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Wells Fargo Boosts Support for Team Practices

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Wells Fargo Advisors (WFC) says the number of advisors who are part of a team practice has jumped about 50% since 2011.

“The program was formally launched in 2011. Since then, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of registered representatives using the team structure,” said Kim Ta, senior vice president and director of teams and succession planning, in an interview with ThinkAdvisor.

“We’ve had a team program for while, but the focus and resources for it are new. We’re excited about how we can best support the strategy,” Ta explained.

Wells Fargo has about 15,314 financial advisors across a variety of channels including one for independent reps (FiNet). But the firm won’t disclose how many are in teams.

The firm will, however, share the incentives it offers reps to join group-based practices: None.

“We feel very passionately that financial advisors should decide [whether or not to join a team] based on their practice,” said Ta. “We have no incentives for this, and thus the organic growth of this effort tells us a lot. For those who choose to be in a team, we want to support them as effectively as possible.”

Still, the executive says, the 50% growth figure signifies that more and more reps “are choosing to do business this way, so we can do more to support them.”

One effort focuses on goal setting, which includes a discussion on how to divide up roles and responsibilities. It’s backed up, of course, by technology – namely a teams-based business planning application and reporting tool rolled out in January, according to Ta, who leads a group of four professionals.

“It allows advisors to share their vision of what they want to accomplish, including specific goals, and it provides reporting on a monthly basis that shows how the advisors are in getting toward the goals they’ve set for themselves,” she explained. “People are really, really excited about it.”

It also pushes team members to establish goals for client contact and service, and includes information on net asset flows and product segmentation “to make sure they have a great view across the practice and [have] put goals in place in order to meet the targets,” Ta says.

Next on the docket is a national teams-only conference set for November in St. Louis.

“The new event will cover topics specifically geared to teams and will include practice management and general topics,” the executive explained.

As for the demographics of advisors joining teams at Wells Fargo, there’s definitely an age mix. Some advisors may be “eyeing retirement and see joining [or forming] a team as a great way to bring someone in to the practice and have a thoughtful transition for their clients for continuity’s sake,” Ta says.

For younger reps, “It can be tough to get started in the business, so teaming [up] provides a platform for junior advisors” to get going in a practice,” she stated.

“There’s comradery across the advisor population, many of whom want to give back across generations … and know how hard it was [to start out]. They want to pass some wisdom along,” Ta said.

For many advisors, being part of a team is a beneficial way to meet the growing demands of clients.

“What we hear is that the expectations of clients are very high, so creating team gives [advisors] a way to provide a multidisciplinary approach to their business model. They can be well positioned to provide expertise across the team, and that’s most effective for clients,” she explained.

As for what’s best for advisors, Ta says the purpose of the group she leads is to share best practices. “That’s the real piece of value we bring,” she explained, “and to provide a forum to share [the best practices] between financial advisors, say, in New York and Ohio. That will be a big focus for us going forward … as well as providing resources to our local leadership, so they can do this at the market level.”

— Check out 4 Steps to Building a Client-Centric Financial Advisory Team on ThinkAdvisor.


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