Best known for its sprawling mortgage business, Well Fargo has quietly been making incremental gains in wealth management. In fact, judging by its second quarter earnings, the San Francisco bank’s wealth management unit is now its fastest-growing business. The wealth division booked net income of $434 million in Q2, up 29% on the quarter and 27% year-over-year.
Like other large banks facing regulatory scrutiny, Wells Fargo plans to continue to invest in its brokerage, advisory and private banking units, recruiting both entry-level trainees and veteran brokers.
We talked to Bret Marshall, head of talent acquisition for Wells Fargo’s wealth, brokerage and retirement units, to get a better idea of the bank’s growth plans and what you’ll need to get the job.
Tell us a little about your hiring plans?
We tend to hire between 5,200 and 5,500 people each year across our wealth management, brokerage and retirement businesses. I don’t see any significant changes this year. We’re neither ramping up nor slowing down across any specific business line. However, within those units, we’re spending more time focused on hiring for revenue-generating and relationship-building roles.
Any particular areas of the country where you are doing more hiring than others?
Our hiring tends to follow population growth, particularly targeting affluent communities. We’re hiring in Chicago, Atlanta and the Northeast, and certainly in markets out west like Las Vegas and in several cities in California. It’s pretty easy – you just follow the money.
Are you looking more for experienced advisors and private bankers or more entry-level candidates?
We look for both. In the wealth management business, we look more for veterans with deep credit experience. When we talk about private banking especially, we’re generally not looking to hire someone right out of school. In the financial advisor group, we hire trainees every year and put them through structured training classes and often team them with a group of experienced advisors.
In the financial advisor group, trainees will make up roughly 750 of the new hires. For experienced hires on the wealth management and private banking side, the number will be smaller.
Within your financial advising business, what are you looking for on a resume?
It’s very different, depending on if they are experienced or rather inexperienced candidates. When I think about experienced hires, it’s very easy. We look for financial advisors managing a book of business that can be portable. We are looking for industry length of service and a book of business that we can replicate. Their clients need to be utilizing investment products that are available on our platform.
For trainees, we’re looking more for initiative, a sales acumen, a technical acumen and strong collaboration skills. Over the last decade, there has been a change in how clients want to interact. Showing up twice a year for in-person meetings still happens, but a growing number of clients want to interact more consistently through Skype and Facetime, for example. Trainees need to be comfortable with various technologies and distance-relationship-building. They also must be able to collaborate with internal groups that handle different client needs, like mortgage, checking and other financial products.
So Wells Fargo does a lot of cross-selling?
We have a group that concentrates on nothing but cross-selling. We have an exceptionally high cross-sell rate. We believe it’s important to look at a client’s circumstances holistically, rather than focusing just on their investment needs.
For trainees, do you assess a candidate’s ability to generate assets from their personal network?
Networking is an important part of it, although we don’t expect someone to be coming out of school with a huge network. What we look for is network- building acumen. We look for signs they can come in and build a network.
Another thing we look at is to team them with veteran advisors who know tricks of the trade. We have two training channels. If a trainee goes into a bank program, they’ll be part of a team. Anyone who goes into the private client group has the option to be part of team and learn what it takes to build a career practice or begin to build their own practice. People who are working on their second career – rather than those coming directly from school – have a better chance of building their own practice right out of the training program.
Have you seen an uptick in second career professionals finding success?
They tend to have greater success. It’s similar to graduate schools, which prefer candidates to get several years of work experience, gain business acumen and hone their networking skills before moving from undergraduate to graduate studies.
How much market knowledge and business acumen do trainees need coming in?
It’s critical. If you can’t pass the Series 7 exam you can’t be a financial advisor. We draw a pretty hard line in the sand – business acumen is important.
Are there any cover letter and resume errors that you see too often?
It’s not just in wealth management, but across the board I see people spend a lot of time listing what they do, not what they have done. List what you do quickly, then list bullet points that chronicle quantifiable accomplishments. That’s what catches the eye.
It’s also important to highlight your true skills as they relate to job. I see way too many generic resumes that don’t target required skills. As much as I hate to admit it, things have gotten very automated, so you need keywords that people recognize. Certainly don’t lie and list skills that you don’t have, but anywhere that you can to tailor your resume to meet the job description, do it. The more commonalty the better.
Does Wells Fargo target mostly high-wealth clientele?
We service people across the board. Wealth management mostly targets high-net-worth individuals. Our financial advisor group targets all segments, which also includes affluent and mass-affluent clients, sometimes with less than $100,000 to invest. We can’t be all things to all people but we have a very broad portfolio of offerings.