Wells Fargo could lay off as many as 525 employees based in Columbia, South Carolina, and close the bank’s corporate office there by June 30, 2024, according to a filing with the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce.
“Wells Fargo leaders are working to provide up-to-date facilities with modern workspaces and technology to create a more collaborative work environment that is a better employee experience,” Wells Fargo wrote in a notice seen by The Post and Courier. “At the same time, we need to concentrate Wells Fargo real estate investments in fewer locations or reduce space in existing real estate.”
The development comes as Wells Fargo announced Tuesday it aims to expand its retail footprint in Chicago to 30 branches from seven — a $175 million, multiyear investment that could add 200 jobs. The first of the new branches is set to open in November.
"Branches continue to play an important role in the way we serve our customers, and customers continue to value the experiences they have in our branches,” Saul Van Beurden, the bank’s CEO of consumer, small and business banking, said in a statement. “We are committed to serving all communities across the Chicagoland area and are looking into additional opportunities to open branches in underserved neighborhoods.”
Wells’ goal is to have a branch within 15 minutes of 95% of Chicago’s population, CEO Charlie Scharf said Tuesday at an event hosted by the Executives’ Club of Chicago, according to Bloomberg. "Chicago is the third-largest city in the country, and we felt we should have a larger presence here.”
Employees affected by the Columbia office closure can transfer to another Wells Fargo office if they want to continue working with the lender, according to The Post and Courier. Employees who choose not to transfer within the bank will be given a formal 60-day notice outlining when their employment might end.
“We will offer support to impacted employees, such as severance and career counseling,” a Wells Fargo spokesperson told Banking Dive via email.
The bank notified South Carolina officials of the pending closure Thursday, according to the filing.
In its statement to Banking Dive, Wells Fargo said the consolidation “will strengthen our customer-centric culture, collaboration, strong risk management and innovation.”
Wells Fargo has cut its workforce by roughly 40,000 since the third quarter of 2020, and more cuts ae expected, the bank’s chief financial officer, Mike Santomassimo, said last month.
Citi, Truist, Barclays and Goldman Sachs also indicated last month that they expected upcoming layoffs. While Barclays and Goldman targeted the bottom performers, Truist aims to reduce a “sizable” portion of its workforce to save $750 million in its gross costs in the next 12 to 18 months. Citi, meanwhile, is undergoing a larger reorganization.
Wells Fargo has been reducing its real-estate portfolio and has announced several rounds of layoffs in its mortgage-lending units.
The bank shut down a dozen branches nationwide within four days in late September, according to a separate filing with the Office of the Comptroller of Currency.