Wells Reshuffles Executives in Retail Banking Unit Again -- Update

By Emily GlazerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Wells Fargo & Co. again shuffled the ranks in its retail-banking unit, continuing efforts to untangle the firm from the sales-practices scandal that erupted in September.

The San Francisco-based bank reorganized the regions in the western half of the U.S. and rearranged executive positions, according to a memo sent last week that was signed by retail-banking head Mary Mack and that was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Southern California and Arizona previously were cited as hot spots for the kind of aggressive sales tactics that have put the bank in the spotlight after a settlement, congressional hearings and continuing investigations.

Continue Reading Below

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman confirmed the content of the memo.

Wells Fargo is also in the process of trimming its branch network. At the bank's investor day earlier this month, it further detailed plans to close about 450 branches in 2017 and 2018 out of roughly 6,000. The moves are part of cost-reduction efforts.

In last week's memo, Ms. Mack said retail-banking executive Lisa Stevens -- whose job responsibilities were curtailed in March -- reorganized the region she oversees to five areas from eight to "streamline" and make the bank more "consistent" across regions.

The bank also detailed changes among regional leaders, including further trimming the responsibilities of John Sotoodeh, who took charge of the bank's troubled Los Angeles region in 2009, according to the memo. Changes to his job announced in March meant employees directly reporting to him previously fell to an estimated 7,000 from 15,000. The "Midwest West" region the executive will oversee now -- made up of Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Idaho -- is made up of even fewer employees, current employees said.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Mary Eshet said Mr. Sotoodeh continues to hold the title of lead regional president and still reports to Ms. Stevens, though he now oversees a different regional geography. She said he wasn't demoted but didn't comment on the number of employees now reporting to him under the new structure.

David DiCristofaro, who led the Los Angeles region for retail banking and earlier was finance director for the Los Angeles metro area during periods of bad employee behavior, now will report to Laurey Cosentino, whom Ms. Mack brought into the retail-banking unit late last year. Mr. DiCristofaro will take on a "critical" senior leadership role driving changes in the retail banking operating model, such as customer experience, with several other executives part of that initiative reporting to him.

The memo also cited Ben Alvarado, previously an executive overseeing retail banking in Southern California, and Frank Newman, who previously oversaw retail banking in Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. They "will be looking for new opportunities," according to the memo. A spokeswoman added that those are within Wells Fargo.

The executives involved didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Journal earlier reported that Ms. Mack wrote in a March memo that while Wells Fargo has taken a number of steps to rebuild trust with customers and employees, there is still more work to do. That included "changes in leadership and how our organization is structured," according to the March memo.

In late April, Wells Fargo's board published findings from its own monthslong investigation into the scandal but didn't announce further firings.

Write to Emily Glazer at emily.glazer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 30, 2017 10:17 ET (14:17 GMT)