Wells Fargo is still mending its image following a sales practices scandal during which the bank opened accounts and enrolled clients in products or services without their consent. The scandal resulted in a fine of $185 million by government agencies, including $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — the largest ever imposed by the federal agency.
But the firm’s wealth and investment management unit was a bright spot in its first quarter earnings, according to CEO Tim Sloan.
Clients assets in wealth and investment management reached a record high of $1.8 trillion, up 9 percent year-over-year. Advisor assets also grew to $490 billion, up 6 percent sequentially and 14 percent from last year. The firm attributes the gains to higher market valuations and net flows.
The number of financial advisors in the bank’s retail brokerage totaled 14,657, down 2 percent, or roughly 293 brokers, from the prior quarter. That’s down 3 percent from this time last year.
During a conference call, Sloan said there had been a rebound in the partnership between the wealth and community banking units.
For the first time since the $185 million fine was announced in September, referrals resulting from the partnership totaled $1 billion in investment assets. It had been averaging about $700 million per month after the settlement was announcement.
“We are pleased that the results from this important partnership have rebounded, which is an indication that our bankers and financial advisors are focused on meeting our customer’s financial needs and that we are competing successfully,” he said.