The law of diminishing returns has found it’s way to the steps of Wells Fargo’s headquarters. A rudderless ship generally doesn’t find it’s desired port of destination. That is where we currently find one of the world’s largest wealth management firms. Adrift at sea, without a map, or a captain.
Think, quickly, about the pitch to walk away from Wells if you are a current advisor at the firm. Your firm defrauded investors, essentially took their identities when they were supposed to be protecting them, in-house counsel is the current CEO, several CEO candidates have turned the job down, you have the biggest recruiting deal on the street enticing some, but many still leary to join the firm, and the bad headlines and trips to congressional hearings are likely to continue.
Stifel, Ameriprise, Dynasty, and others have been successfully making the above pitch for nearly a year – and Wells’ diminishing advisor headcount makes it clear that it not only resonates but has looked all the more like a suitable lifeboat to exit upon. Wells advisors continue to believe that capitulating to client concerns about the firm is a better option than defending those same concerns.
But what of Wells’ pitch to potential breakaway advisors? It breaks down to this: we have the biggest deal on the street, will probably even extend it further than what we are comfortable with, and at some point, the headlines will subside, we will have a willing and able CEO, and you will have hit the bid at the industry all-time highs.
Before you scoff there may be a smidge of wisdom in that pitch. Even so, advisors aren’t buying it at the moment. Maybe they should? Maybe they shouldn’t.
What will be the tell-tale sign that Wells Fargo has turned the corner? When the exit/entry numbers even out. That must be the short term goal of management. But from these pages, we may be a ways off from that point.