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Wells Fargo recruiters and management have made a clear choice about the current state of wealth management amidst the coronavirus outbreak and market downturn – see this as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle. In conversations with recruiters and recruits alike it is clear that Wells Fargo wants to come out of this from a real position of recruiting strength, potentially landing more advisors and teams than was in their pipeline before the crisis began.

A talking point that we picked up on from multiple sources is this – the firm sees this crisis much like the financial mess that unfolded in 2008/2009. There was incredible movement from one firm to another during the months and year that followed, and Wells Fargo wants to be in position to take unique advantage of that same phenomenon. In fact,they believe that is exactly how it will unfold. Advisors will fill the need to ‘recapitalize’ in some way; and that way is usually handled via recruiting bonuses of scale.

Wells Fargo managers and recruiters have been tasked with reaching out to contacts during quarantine as they are generally more available and not hampered by the confines of their current branch and peering eye and listening ears. The conversations can be had at anytime as schedules are more open and advisors and actively planning the ‘what to do now’ phase of their careers. Wells Fargo brass believes that capitalizing on current levels of fear will pay big dividends in recruiting.

One recruiter that we spoke to had this to say about Wells and their strategy, “…it is very, very active out here right now. And Wells remains a major player. Not only do they have one of, if not the biggest, deal on the street, but the add on of retiring at the firm pushes any deal beyond the 500% level. So huge. If advisors are looking at books and revenue that have taken a 20% hit – an extra 200% on top of a +300% deal should fit just right. That is what Wells Fargo is selling. Pushing during this crisis and remaining constantly available as advisors schedules are free of in-person and in-office appointment… smart.”

Another recruiter took another track on the WF push, “Yes, they are being aggressive and keeping it up during this whole ordeal. But it is a 50/50 kind of thing. Some advisors may be turned off by it if the local manager doesn’t handle it with some level of care and empathy. It is one thing to lob lots of calls into a prospect – but a better idea would be to send gifts or written corrospondence that gives off the assumption of empathy. If, on the whole, WF gets that right, yeah they will come out of this as a winner.”

A current Wells Fargo recruit that we spoke with had this to say about their current process, “…they’ve been the most active in staying in touch as this thing has unfolded. Not in an annoying way, but just promising that nothing has materially changed on their end and that the process continues. That has been reassuring as I was a little concerned that this may stunt the process overall, but they’ve stepped up and made sure that I shouldn’t worry about it. Once this passes (coronavirus, market downturn) I know I’ve got options.”

If Wells Fargo does believe that this looks a lot like 2008/09 then they’ve made the right choice to lean in to recruiting and stay ‘top of mind’ with their best targets. It will pay off in the second half of this year, but probably more so in 2021. Being proactive in the midst of chaos has always been a counter-intuitive strategy for the bold.

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