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Wells Fargo to Drop Abbot Downing Brand

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What You Need to Know

  • The news comes only about a week after Wells Fargo said it would restructure its wealth unit.
  • The Abbot Downing UHNW brand will be folded into the company's Private Bank brand.
  • Wells Fargo remains committed to serving UHNW clients, according to Barry Sommers, WIM CEO.

Wells Fargo is rebranding its ultra-high net worth business, Abbot Downing, and moving it under the Wells Fargo Private Bank brand, the company said Thursday.

Abbot Downing manages more than $47 billion in client assets, according to its website. Its clients have at least $50 million in assets.

“The Abbot Downing relationship managers will continue to serve clients under the new job title of Family Office Advisors,” Abbot Downing spokeswoman Julie Andrews told ThinkAdvisor on Friday. “The branding change will happen in phases,” she added.

Last week, Wells Fargo announced another initiative intended to narrow the structure of its wealth management businesses, saying it planned to reduce the number of its private client group regions from 12 to eight.

That news came roughly a week after Wells Fargo said it was selling its asset management unit, which includes some $603 billion in assets and 450 investment professionals, to private equity firms GTCR and Reverence Capital Partners for $2.1 billion.

Danny Sarch, president of the recruiting firm Leitner Sarch Consultants, called the branding move “long overdue” on Friday. (He said the same of the wealth unit restructuring last week.)

“If you’re going to reinvent and reinvigorate one of the most recognizable brand names in the country, if not the world, which they’ve done with advertising and new leadership… why would you have a separate brand for your wealthiest customers?” he said. “It made no sense to me — other than the pride of the Abbot Downing people.”

Dropping the Abbot Downing brand is “part of the streamlining going on at Wells Fargo,” executive recruiter Mark Elzweig noted. Abbot Downing and the Private Bank are “natural fits for one another,” he told ThinkAdvisor on Friday. “I’m sure that  this move will generate some cost savings” also, he said.

Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management’s Client Relationship Group already includes Abbot Downing, along with Wells Fargo Advisors and the Private Bank brand, which has been serving high-net-worth individuals and families.

However, by joining the Abbot Downing business “more formally with the company’s existing Wells Fargo Private Bank brand, the business is working to unify the WIM business to better serve all its clients, and contribute to the larger transformation happening across Wells Fargo,” the company said Thursday.

UHNW Services

WIM will continue to offer the services Abbot Downing currently provides to ultra-wealthy individuals, families, foundations and endowments despite the elimination of the brand name, Wells Fargo said.

The Abbot Downing brand was introduced by Wells Fargo 10 years ago, following the merging of two legacy family office businesses. The Abbot Downing business was named after the company that crafted stagecoaches in the 19th century.

Despite dropping the Abbot Downing brand, Wells Fargo remains committed to serving ultra-high net worth clients, according to Barry Sommers, CEO of WIM.

“The name may change but our commitment to the business, our clients, and our advisors serving these clients is steadfast,” he said in a statement. “This business is an important part of WIM with significant potential for growth, and we will continue to serve the specialized needs of our ultra-high-net-worth clients in the manner they have come to expect.”