A Wells Fargo branch (Photo: Bank Rate)

Wells Fargo cuts over 700 Jobs in commercial banking

A Wells Fargo branch (Photo: Bank Rate)

Wells Fargo & Co cut more than 700 commercial-banking jobs as it embarks on workforce reductions that could ultimately number in the tens of thousands, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The terminations affected positions across the division, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing details of internal decisions. The unit offers a variety of services to businesses that typically have more than US$5 million in annual sales. Katie Ellis, a company spokeswoman, confirmed that at least some reductions have occurred.

Katie Ellis, spokesperson, Wells Fargo
(Photo: Twitter @KatieEllisWF)

“We are at the beginning of a multi-year effort to build a stronger, more efficient company for our customers, employees, communities, and shareholders,” Ellis said in a statement. “As part of this work, we will have impacts, including job reductions, in nearly all of our functions and business lines, including commercial banking, where we have started displacements.”

Wells Fargo, the US banking industry’s largest employer, became the first major lender in the nation to resume job cuts this year after a number of top firms said they would try to offer workers stability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies including Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co have since made targeted reductions. Bank of America Corp Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan said last week that he was sticking by the bank’s no-lay-off pledge for 2020.

“We are at the beginning of a multi-year effort to build a stronger, more efficient company for our customers, employees, communities, and shareholders.”

— Katie Ellis, spokesperson, Wells Fargo

More than 30 banks around the world are behind planned staff reductions totalling about 68,000, according to figures compiled by Bloomberg. Much of that’s being driven by HSBC Holdings Plc, which said in February it would reduce its workforce by 35,000 as part of a plan to cut US$4.5 billion of costs at underperforming units in the US and Europe.

Concern intensified this week that more job cuts across the US economy were in store after President Donald Trump scuttled negotiations over an economic stimulus Bill.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo is under heightened pressure to spend less after slashing its dividend and reporting a quarterly loss earlier this year. Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf, who took over in 2019, has repeatedly lamented the firm’s high expenses and pledged to eventually trim at least US$10 billion in annual costs. Bloomberg reported in July that cuts would start this year and could reach the tens of thousands in future years.

Chief Executive Officer of Wells Fargo & Co Charlie Scharf (Photo: Bloomberg)

Wells Fargo is taking a number of actions to get expenses in line with peers and hasn’t yet set targets for total job reductions, Ellis said. The bank expects “to reduce the size of our workforce through a combination of attrition, the elimination of open roles and job displacements”, she said.

Shares of the company, which have dropped 54 per cent this year, advanced 2.2 per cent to US$24.70 at 9:39 am in New York.

— Bloomberg