Wells Fargo plans to hire hundreds
Wells Fargo’s local operation is growing across all its business units and by year’s end it plans to add hundreds of bankers, hire home mortgage consultants for most of its 198 South Florida branches, potentially double its new Kendall operation and open a 3,000-square-foot full-service branch on a busy Hialeah corner.
The San Francisco-based bank holds more deposits than any competitor in the South Florida market and is leveraging that strength to expand its footprint.
With about $30.88 billion in deposits in the region, it controlled 18.36% of the market, according to the latest FDIC reports, outpacing its nearest competitor, Bank of America’s $25.12 billion, or 14.94% market share. It also holds a dominant position across the state, controlling 16.28% of deposits — the second-biggest chunk of deposits.
And come year end, it plans to solidify its position as one of the largest employers in Miami-Dade by adding 200 bankers and tellers before Dec. 31. Last year, its new banking hires numbered 159, bringing its Miami-Dade employee count to more than 1,900 and its South Florida staff to about 5,000.
“We’re pretty bullish,” said Frank Newman, Wells Fargo’s regional president in South Florida. “We’ve grown quite a bit in terms of customer demand. One of the things we’re most excited about is we’re a [major] provider of jobs, and we’re really pleased we’re in that position to improve the economy.”
About 15 of these new jobs will be at the bank’s Hialeah branch, scheduled to open in the fourth quarter at 581 W 49th St. at Red Road. The new branch is to offer retail, small business, investment, mortgage lending and other services.
But Wells Fargo isn’t just shoring up its retail banking staff and operations. The bank that holds one of three US mortgages is also gunning for a larger share of the local market by making sure each of its branches has a dedicated mortgage consultant.
“It’s a very important part of our business,” Mr. Newman said. “We’ve already added 30 home mortgage consultants in South Florida in 2012 and are continuing to add more this year. We’re looking to add a home mortgage consultant to each store.”
Ken Thomas, Miami-based bank consultant and economist, said the move makes sense for a company that built itself into a dominant force in about four years, after purchasing the failed Wachovia — the nation’s fourth-largest bank — and restructuring its business lines, improving on Wachovia’s deposit market share and overall operations.
“When you mention Wells Fargo, you automatically mention mortgages. They do control one third of the nation’s mortgages. They bought the market leader in South Florida and they are continuing at or near that position,” Mr. Thomas said. “That’s why they are in such a strong position now. They’re a very strong and well-run bank.”
In addition to its 198 regional stores, the bank operates several supplemental business lines, among them a wealth and brokerage business, an insurance group, mortgage lending, corporate banking for customers with revenue between $2 million and $20 million, and a separate division for clients with revenue up to $1 billion.
One of its strengths, observers said, has been Wells Fargo’s ability to quickly spot opportunities and use its resources to respond.
The Wells Fargo Home Mortgage center in Kendall might be the latest example. The center officially opened in June with 14 mortgage consultants and a dedicated manager, but executives are already evaluating demand and testing it with growth in mind for this year and beyond.
“We started with 14, but as demand increases, I would not be surprised that we increase that number by an equal amount. We have the capacity built into our locations to increase drastically,” Mr. Newman said. “We’re in a growth business.”
It’s a strategy the bank intends to apply to its financial advising business line, too, with plans to bring investment expertise to all its stores. This year, the goal is to hire 20 to 25 financial advisors in South Florida.
“It’s an important piece of what customers require,” Mr. Newman said. “We’re very upbeat. We think the trends are positive on the whole.”