Wells Fargo Advisors recently moved to reverse its decision to raise the client asset level at which an account fee was waived.
The wirehouse told its roughly 13,500 employee advisors last month that — starting Sept. 1 — client households would need assets of $500,000 in their accounts to avoid fees that typically are as high as $300 per year; earlier, the asset level to avoid the charge was $250,000.
But in late March, the bank said it had suspended the move due to “the current environment and to ensure we are able to best serve our clients.
WFA also says it has other waivers in place, such as a $250,000 Advisory AUM Household Waiver and a $100,000 Net New Asset Household Waiver.
Wells Fargo’s advisor headcount stands at some 13,500 vs. nearly 14,000 a year ago. That’s down some 1,575 (or nearly 10.5%) from Sept. 30, 2016, when the firm had close to 15,085 registered reps and began making headlines for its fake accounts.
WFA is part of the bank’s Wealth & Investment Management unit, which is set to get a new chief as part of a restructuring effort announced earlier this year.
Jon Weiss is leading the unit in the interim, as he becomes CEO of Corporate & Investment Banking, previously part of the bank’s Wholesale Banking unit. In addition to WFA, the unit includes the Private Bank, Abbot Downing and Wells Fargo Asset Management.
Bank’s $3B Settlement
In February, Wells Fargo reached a $3 billion deal with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commision to resolve potential criminal and civil charges tied to its fake-accounts scandals.
As part of the agreements, the bank admitted that it collected millions of dollars in fees and interest to which it was not entitled, harmed credit ratings of clients and unlawfully misused sensitive personal information, including clients’ means of identification, the DOJ said in a statement.
The practices date from 2002 to 2016, when Wells Fargo pressured “employees to meet unrealistic sales goals that led thousands of employees to provide millions of accounts or products to customers under false pretenses or without consent, often by creating false records or misusing customers’ identities,” the DOJ added.