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Wells Fargo Wealth Management Head Jay Welker to Retire

With recent alleged scandals, his retirement could pave the way for more of the bank’s brokerage business to move to Wells Fargo Advisors division under David Kowach.

Jay Welker, the head of Wells Fargo & Co.’s Wealth Management division and head of its private bank, will retire at the end of March, according to an internal memo seen by Wealthmanagement.com.

Welker has been in charge of wealth management at Wells Fargo since 2003, but was most recently in the spotlight for a handful of issues that brought unwelcome scrutiny to the Wealth and Investment Management division he operated under, and, more broadly, Wells Fargo.

Last March the bank’s board of directors said it had been prompted by questions from federal regulators to scrutinize Welker’s division for aggressive sales tactics, including pushing inappropriate recommendations over 401(k) rollovers and other investment recommendations. The allegations came shortly after the massive fraudulent account scandal erupted at Wells Fargo’s retail bank division.

Shortly after that report, The Wall Street Journal reported that Wells Fargo was investigating complaints of gender bias in Welker’s division, as well as complaints against Welker himself for inappropriate comments made in the workplace, such as calling female employees “girls,” the paper reported.

It’s unclear if there was any resolution to either of those investigations. A Wells Fargo spokesman would not comment on Welker beyond confirming what was in the retirement announcement.

Sources familiar with Wells Fargo say a revamping of its Wealth Management and Investment division makes sense, as some of wealth management division duplicates, and in some cases compete with, Wells Fargo’s brokerage unit Wells Fargo Advisors, based in St. Louis and home to some 10,000 brokers operating under head David Kowach.

That restructuring seemed to begin in August, when the Wealth and Investment Management division announced that the unit’s 3,500 bank-based brokers would be folded into Kowach’s brokerage unit.

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