The Labor Department is reportedly examining if Wells Fargo has been encouraging participants in corporate 401(k) plans to move their assets into individual retirement accounts, according to a story Thursday in The Wall Street Journal.
The DOL also wants to know if Wells Fargo’s retirement-plan unit pushed clients to obtain in-house funds, which involve front-end loads or fees. In addition, the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission also are looking into the bank’s retirement-plan practices, sources told the Journal.
The news comes about two months after Wells Fargo disclosed that regulators were reviewing such issues in its 10-K report of March 1, though the filing did not name the specific agencies involved in the investigation. A week ago, the bank agreed to pay a fine of $1 billion related to problems in its auto and mortgage-lending operations.
“This is a big deal. Earlier investigations were related to banking. Now it’s … is finally hitting [its] advisory business,” said recruiter Danny Sarch of Leitner Sarch Consultants, when the news emerged in early March. Sarch says that since then he has been contacted by a number of advisors with Wells Fargo who are considering their options.