Wells Fargo moves more auto staff to central hubs, eyes rebranding: memo

FILE PHOTO - A man walks by a bank machine at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S. on April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

(Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Co WFC.N is making more structural and management changes to its auto lending unit, according to an internal memo viewed by Reuters, part of the bank's effort to control risk more effectively. The latest overhaul will phase out 57 regional offices across the United States and eliminate the positions of those regional managers, according to the memo.

Loan funding staff will shift from regional offices to two central locations in Chandler, Arizona, and Irving, Texas, while credit underwriting personnel and salespeople who call on dealerships will remain in local markets under a new management structure.

Wells’ auto business, called Wells Fargo Dealer Services, is also likely to get a name change to reflect that it works with retail customers as well as dealers, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Spokeswoman Catherine Pulley confirmed the contents of the memo, which was distributed on Wednesday.

“This decision was made with careful consideration for our team members, dealer relationships and consumer customers and will take several months to complete as we work to position Dealer Services for future growth in an evolving marketplace,” Pulley said in an emailed statement.

Pulley declined to comment on whether there will be a name change or to say how many employees might be affected by the reorganization.

Earlier this year Wells Fargo similarly consolidated its auto loan collections staff, a move that could eliminate hundreds of jobs.

The bank is making structural changes to the business as it cuts back sharply on auto lending, and centralizes risk management broadly after a sales scandal in which it created up to 2.1 million accounts without customers’ knowledge.

Other auto lenders, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co JPM.N and Ally Financial Inc ALLY.N centralized their operations in similar ways years earlier.

Reporting by Dan Freed in New York; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra and Meredith Mazzilli