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Wells Fargo’s Latest Woe Is Gender Bias in Wealth Unit: Report

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Wells Fargo’s wealth management business is investigating complaints tied to gender bias, according to report in Friday’s Wall Street Journal.

Dozens of women have been interviewed, and there at least one human-resources complaint has been filed against Jay Welker — president of  private bank and head of the wealth-management division since 2003 — over gender bias, the report explains.

According to The Journal, some women with Wells Fargo’s wealth unit said Welker frequently referred to them as “girls” and told them to put on “big-girl panties.”

Wells Fargo is “committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our business,” bank spokeswoman Kathleen Leary told the paper.

“We value all of our Wells Fargo team members, and we take seriously any allegation raised by a team member, or against a team member,” she explained. “We ensure that concerns raised are thoroughly and objectively investigated, while taking measures to protect confidentiality. Once an investigation is complete we are committed to taking any appropriate action.”

(Wells Fargo did not return ThinkAdvisor’s requests for a statement or interview about the matter.)

A group of 12 female regional managers of the wealth unit met in June to discuss their discontent, according to The Journal. The other 33 regional leaders are men. All 45 report to seven male senior managing directors.

At the June gathering, some managers said Welker had told them that women “should be at home taking care of their children,” the paper reported.

The women focused their meeting on how to increase female executives with the organization and created a series of recommendations that were then delivered to Welker and  Tim Traudt, head of regional wealth management, The Journal says.

Wells Fargo is working to host five women-focused wealth management internal events before year-end, which is ahead of the two it held last year, the paper reports.

As of June 30, Wells Fargo Advisors included 14,226 advisors. That’s down about 300 from a year ago and 173 from the prior quarter, though the firm says retirement is behind 80% of departures over the past 12 months.

Also in the second quarter of 2018, the bank accrued a $114 million expense to refund wealth-unit customers who had been overcharged over the last seven years, along with $171 million for foreign-exchange clients.

Click here for a Timeline of Wells Fargo’s Scandals.