Wells Fargo Advisors names David Kowach new head

A Wells Fargo branch is seen in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, February 10, 2015. REUTERS/Jim Young

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wells Fargo & Company named David Kowach to head its retail wealth management division, Wells Fargo Advisors, the nation’s third-largest brokerage, on Thursday.

Kowach was promoted from his job overseeing roughly 11,000 brokers in the bank’s Private Client Group. He succeeds Mary Mack, who left Wells Fargo Advisors last month to head up Wells’ community banking business.

Kowach, a 25-year veteran of the financial services industry, was focused on recruitment, retention, growth and sales during the more than four years he led the Private Client Group, Wells Fargo’s largest wealth management business. In his new role, he will takes on managing an additional 4,000 bankers under the Wells Fargo Advisors umbrella.

Kowach enters the role at a time when the full-service brokerage industry is undergoing major regulatory and technology changes.

A new Department of Labor rule that takes effect in April 2017 has sparked an industry overhaul as wealth management businesses big and small scramble to decipher which products and business practices meet the rule’s fiduciary standard.

The cost of compliance industry-wide is expected to reach as much as $31.5 billion in the next decade, which will result in higher costs to serve mass affluent investors who make up a large portion of the St. Louis-based brokerage’s clientele.

Wells Fargo Advisors is working to roll out a pilot version of a robo adviser in first half of 2017 in order to have more options for clients who want to pay lower fees or prefer digital options.

Wells also made a play last year to target wealthier clients by recruiting more than 100 private bankers from Credit Suisse Group AG when the Swiss bank sold off its U.S.-based brokerage business, many of whom took jobs in Kowach’s old division.

Wells Fargo, which said it would name Kowach’s successor shortly, did not make him available for interviews.

Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Trott