“Established 1852. Re-established 2018 with a recommitment to you.” That’s the tagline from Wells Fargo’s new advertising campaign, which is designed to move the bank past its huge fake-accounts scandal caused by the immense pressure put on its bankers to sell. Indeed, Wells makes a point of saying that product sales goals are gone — for its branch bankers.
But in the upper echelon of a different division of Wells Fargo — its Wealth and Investment Management division — the intense pressure for sales is alive and well, according to hundreds of pages of internal documents reviewed by Yahoo Finance, and interviews with four former employees in that division. In fact, even as Wells was de-emphasizing sales goals within its community bank, the pressure on its wealth managers was being turned up.
Documents show that within the wealth management part of Wells Fargo’s high-net-worth Private Bank, investment management control was transferred from human advisors to formulaic models — a move that does ensure consistency and reduce the risk that an advisor does something crazy, but one that the former advisors felt was also designed to make advisors focus on sales.
“As a company they emphasized sales to such a point that I felt just like the salesmen in ‘Glengarry Glen Ross,’” said one former advisor, referencing the David Mamet play and 1992 film in which salesmen are given a sell-or-be-fired pitch that leads to a break-in and fraud.
Two former advisors also say they felt they were supposed to hide the shift from clients so the services could continue to be represented as highly personalized advice.
“The firm made it very clear that we could not discuss the fact that we were no longer managing the portfolios,” one former advisor told Yahoo Finance. “That remains one of the biggest ongoing secrets kept from wealth management clients to this day.