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Paris and Dublin 'top Wells Fargo wish list' after Brexit

07 / 06 / 2018

Wells Fargo may be expanding its operations in Dublin and Paris, as the financial services giant considers alternative arrangements for key European business functions. 

Any work that could no longer be completed in the UK once the country leaves the EU would instead be passed to the bank's offices in the French and Irish capitals, according to insiders who spoke to the Financial Times (FT). 

The organisation already has small operations in Dublin and Paris, which employ 170 and 30 people, respectively. Wells would likely transfer some of the 1,200 staff currently located at its London office, although no exact figures are known. 

According to the FT's sources, the bank has not made a final decision, with the company weighing up costs and regulatory hurdles. But the news appears to support a Press Association report from last month that indicated Wells was considering bulking up its Dublin office with additional staff in the "low triple digits". Despite the rumours, Wells declined to comment. 

"An announcement on our post-Brexit arrangements will be made in the coming months," the company stated in May. 

Firms choosing two-city Brexit strategies

If Wells splits its focus between Paris and Dublin, the bank will follow in the footsteps of other major financial institutions that are taking a more fragmented approach to Brexit contingency planning. 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has already announced 125 jobs will be relocated to Dublin next month, with its sales and trading operations in Paris also set to receive a boost. 

Many businesses also appear to be taking the two-city approach rather than transferring staff to a single location. Last year, Goldman Sachs confirmed it would concentrate on two new hubs, one in the French capital and another in Frankfurt. Meanwhile, JPMorgan Chase has unveiled plans in both Dublin and Paris. 

Nevertheless, London is likely to remain Wells' primary centre for UK business dealings, particularly as the company is moving to a new headquarters near London Bridge later this year. The £300 million purchase of 33 King William Street was finalised in January. 

"This is a significant milestone for Wells Fargo's international footprint as it demonstrates our commitment to the UK, which accounts for a large part of our business activity in EMEA," said Frank Pizzo, regional president of EMEA at Wells Fargo. 

Recent Wells Fargo woes

The possible expansion of Wells' Paris and Dublin offices comes after a tough few years for the bank. In 2016, the company's sales practices landed the firm in hot water with regulators. Wells soon lost major clients and settled for $180 million on its compliance failings. 

Furthermore, the organisation's poor handling of auto insurance, mortgages and other financial products resulted in Wells agreeing a whopping $1 billion settlement in April. 

The bank is also under strict instructions from the US Federal Reserve to halt growth until its corporate governance processes are strengthened. It was an unprecedented step from the Fed, highlighting the challenges that Wells has faced in recent years. 
 
A shift in focus towards the bank's expansion plans in Europe will no doubt come as a breath of fresh air for the bank, as it looks to repair its reputation worldwide. 

Image citation: matthewleesdixon via iStock
 
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