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Wells Fargo branch takes 'pretty big hit' as advisors exit

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On a Friday in early August, financial advisor Peter De Arcangelis handed in his resignation notice at Wells Fargo. The same day, his longtime colleague, advisor H.B. Smith, did the same.

“On that Friday afternoon, they lost at least $2.5 million in production,” says De Arcangelis, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He adds: “That’s a pretty big hit for one branch.”

Though the advisors went to different firms ― De Arcangelis to Ameriprise, Smith to Baird ― they mark yet more losses for Wells Fargo. Shadowed by banking scandals and regulatory penalties since 2016, the wirehouse has reported falling head count. For the second quarter, Wells Fargo said its brokerage force shrank by 301 advisors from the year-ago period.

The firm attributes most of these losses to retirement. But many advisors have been leaving for other firms, such as Raymond James, Stifel and Snowden Lane among others. At least three dozen brokers have quit Wells Fargo for competitors since July 1, according to hiring and recruiting data collected by On Wall Street.

“You’ve got a bank whose name is in the paper all the time, and not for their charitable work,” says De Arcangelis.

He took along his wife and daughter, who worked with him at the firm, to his new employer, Ameriprise. His wife, Gloria De Arcangelis, is his client associate, and his daughter, Alessandra De Arcangelis, is training to be an advisor. He manages $140 million in assets, according to Ameriprise.

De Arcangelis considered a few other firms, including Janney Montgomery Scott, BB&T Scott & Stringfellow and Raymond James, before eventually landing at Minneapolis-based Ameriprise, he says.

For De Arcangelis, this is the second time he’s switched firms, he says.

De Arcangelis says that about 75% of his clients have agreed to move with him so far. But not all the accounts have been opened, nor all the assets transferred.

“There’s still money out there to be had,” he says. “It’s not with me now — it’s still over at Wells.”

De Arcangelis' reasons for wanting to leave included what he sees as an inherent conflict of interest that comes with a bank owning a broker-dealer. Banks want to incentivize their own offerings and mortgages to an advisor’s clients, he says.

There were other motivations, too.

“It’s just gotten messy there,” he says about Wells Fargo. “And we were the advisors, so we were really a separate entity, but it was carrying over to us.”

For now, De Arcangelis is focused on transitioning his clients to his new firm.

“I haven’t had a life since August 3,” he says, moments before meeting clients for dinner.

Ameriprise is based in Minneapolis and has 9,906 advisors, according to its second quarter earnings report, most of which are franchise advisors. Over the last two quarters, 155 new advisors have joined the firm, according to earnings call statements made by Jim Cracchiolo, CEO of Ameriprise.

A spokeswoman at Wells Fargo declined to comment on the departure.

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