Miami becoming center for Wells Fargo Florida operation
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Although Wells Fargo won't abandon Wachovia Bank's Jacksonville headquarters as it converts its new subsidiary's branches to its own, Miami is playing a rapidly expanding role for the bank statewide.
In January, Wells Fargo relocated Regional President for Los Angeles Metro Shelley Freeman to Florida to oversee the megabanks retail, small business and business banking arms. For nearly the past year, she's been running the bank's statewide operations out of the downtown Miami Wachovia Financial Center, and it seems she'll be doing so in the future.
"Once Shelley came in January from Los Angeles to her new role she kind of established Miami as the new headquarters," said Wachovia spokesperson Kathy Harrison in a telephone interview. "That being said, Jacksonville used to be our headquarters here and frankly I think it's important to know that a number of leaders, especially heads of lines of business, still sit here in Jacksonville."
Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia in late 2008 for about $12.7 billion. The move saddled the San Francisco-based bank with billions in mortgage and real estate loans but also made it the fourth-largest bank in the country by assets. Wells Fargo now has the nation's largest branch network with more than 6,600 offices in 39 states and Washington, DC.
And in Florida, Wells Fargo gained 740 branches and $71 billion in deposits while in Miami-Dade County, the bank has 65 offices and about $10 billion in deposits, giving it No. 1 market share both here and statewide.
The statewide executives in Jacksonville include the heads of Wachovia's commercial banking, business banking, wealth management, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and community development divisions.
And for the foreseeable future, they'll be there.
There's "no plan in place to relocate them to Miami," Ms. Harrison said. "We have a very large presence here in Jacksonville — not only those leaders, but an awful lot of team members."
Meanwhile, Ms. Freeman is joined in Miami by the statewide heads of finance, recruiting, learning and development, marketing, and operations.
And as the total conversion of Wachovia branches to Wells Fargo stores, slated for 2011, nears, Ms. Freeman is going to encourage new Wells Fargo executives to locate here.
For "those leaders based in Jacksonville, there is no plan to relocate them to Miami," Ms. Harrison said. "However new leaders that have come on board, and there are some that have come on board this year, [Ms. Freeman] will encourage them to be based in Miami."