Seattle, Washington – Wells Fargo Financial, a division of the banking giant Wells Fargo & Company, has announced that their 638 Wells Fargo Financial stores will be closed. Nineteen locations in Western Washington are among the shuttered stores, with a majority of them in the Greater Seattle/Puget Sound region.
Employees Face Unsure Future
In the Wells Fargo Financial news release dated July 7, 2010, division president David Kvamme is quoted saying, “We know this decision will be extremely difficult for those dedicated team members and their families who will be affected. We have already identified positions for thousands of our employees and are committed to finding new positions for as many impacted team members as possible.”
Wells Fargo Financial has over 14,000 employees. Nationwide 2,800 staff members will receive pink slips within 60 days, one thousand more within the year. The rest will be reassigned to other Wells Fargo divisions.
It is not yet known how many Wells Fargo Financial employees located in Western Washington will be terminated or reassigned. In a telephone interview, Wells Fargo Financial VP of Communication Diana Rodriquez said, “There are 25 stores in Washington State, with an average of 5 to 6 team members in each office. Wells Fargo Financial is working with Wells Fargo Community Banks to reassign as many of the (financial division) team members as possible before the (Wells Fargo Financial) stores are closed.”
Certainly, during this transition time, the stress of not knowing the next step will weigh heavily on the employees and their families. Western Washington stores to close, with a total of over 100 staff members, are located in: Seattle, Tacoma (2), Auburn, Bellingham, Bellevue, Bremerton, Everett, Federal Way, Kirkland, Lakewood, Lynnwood, Marysville, Olympia, Puyallup, Shoreline, Tukwila and Vancouver (2). Additionally there are six branches, with about thirty employees, that will close in Eastern Washington: Yakima, Spokane Valley, Spokane (2), Kennewick and East Wenatchee.
Closures Transparent for Customers
While the employees at the Wells Fargo Financial stores wait for the outcome of the reassignment project, existing customers will be served without disruption. All of the Wells Fargo & Company community bank branches and mortgage stores currently operating will not be closed. Services now offered at the Wells Fargo Financial services will be transferred to the other Wells Fargo divisions, hopefully transparent for its current clients and new customers. According to the press release, “FHA home loans, auto loans and credit cards previously offered by Wells Fargo Financial will be consolidated with similar products across the company and will be offered though the company’s network of community banking stores, mortgage stores, phone banks and www.wellsfargo.com. Wells Fargo Financial commercial businesses will be realigned with business units within Wells Fargo over the next 12 months. However, Wells Fargo will no longer originate non-prime portfolio real estate loans.”
Shareholders Given Assuring Information
For those residents in Western Washington who hold stock in Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), the news release answers financial considerations related to stock: “Restructuring-related, pre-tax charges of approximately $185 million will be incurred in total, with $137 million, or $0.02 per common share, recorded in the second quarter for 2010 for severance costs. The remaining charges are expected to be recognized in the second half of 2010, primarily in the third quarter. Once implemented, ongoing cost savings from Wells Fargo Financial’s restructuring are expected to offset these changes in the first year and a half.”
Wells Fargo & Company Remains a Leading U.S. Bank
Wells Fargo & Company, headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a giant among U.S. financial institutions, with $1.2 trillion in assets. The merger with Wachovia, effective December 31, 2008, created North America’s most extensive distribution system for financial services with over 10,000 stores and 12,000 ATM’s. The financial division closure is seen by financial analysts as a smart business decision, trimming non-essential and duplicated services. Hopefully Wells Fargo will be able to complete the restructuring of the financial division with limited disruption to the lives and finances of its team members.
Wells Fargo Financial, July 7, 2010 News Release
Wells Fargo Investment Strategy: Website
Diana Rodriquez, VP Communications, Wells Fargo Financial: Phone Interview 07/12/2010