As most of the world’s biggest banks are pulling back on their operations, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) is planning to expand in investment banking. So far, the bank has been focusing on its core retail banking business, but the bank said now is the right time to hire and expand into investment banking business.
John Shrewsberry, head of the investment banking operations known as Wells Fargo Securities, said that the bank can earn solid return from investment banking with little risk. He said there are thousands of talented people available to come aboard. Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) will serve the corporate lending customers by offering services like merger advice and stock & bond underwriting. It is also evaluating options in areas of processing futures and swaps trades. Wells Fargo said it won’t indulge in riskier undertakings, such as trading for its own account.
The Wells Fargo Securities has a little more than 4,000 employees, which is less than 2 percent of the company’s total workforce. The unit is relatively small and has its hub in Charlotte, North Carolina. Shrewsberry said that the unit has the potential to double its business within just a few years. Currently, it contributes just 5 percent of the firm’s total revenues. The investment banking units of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), Bank of America Corp (NYSE:BAC), and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE:C) generate 20-25 percent of their total revenues.
However, most of the investors have not been enthusiastic about the move. They want the conservative bank to stick to its own business. “They’re saying that’s not your business. Therefore, you’re going to make mistakes. It’s going to cost us a lot of money,” says Dick Bove of Rochdale Securities.
During a presentation for investors in May, chief executive John Stumpf faced questions about why Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC) needs to expand in investment banking business. Stumpf said that the move is in line with the bank’s strategy to offer more products and services to customers.