Citing Wachovia takeover, Wells Fargo moves to hire 500 additional workers

Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 7, 2011; 5:40 PM

Wells Fargo said Monday that it plans to hire 500 tellers, managers and personal bankers in the Washington area during the next few months as part of its takeover of Wachovia.

In December 2008, the San Francisco-based bank acquired Wachovia, which last fall was tops among Washington area financial institutions in deposits. Wells Fargo plans to rebrand all branches by fall.

In all, Wells Fargo plans to hire 1,000 employees for 404 branches in its Mid-Atlantic region, which includes the District, Maryland and Virginia. The bank has 130 branches in the Washington area. Wells Fargo said that, for the most part, it is not opening new branches but is beefing up staff in its existing banks.

"The Wells Fargo model calls for more people than Wachovia. Wells Fargo has more bankers in the stores, so bankers can spend more time with customers," said Wells Fargo spokeswoman Aimee Worsley. "We want to make sure we have plenty of people in the stores when we make the conversion, to provide [customers] with the personal attention they need."

Since the merger, Wells Fargo has hired 600 employees for its banks in the Mid-Atlantic region to gain a stronger market foothold, a strategy that apparently paid off. Last fall, Wachovia supplanted Bank of America as the largest bank in the Washington metropolitan region, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data. With its $3 billion increase in deposits, Wachovia took 16.1 percent of the local market share, compared with Bank of America's 14.6 percent.

The hiring spree is further evidence to some local economists that the financial services sector is on its way to recovery. From December 2009 to December 2010, the sector in the region had a net loss of 1,700 jobs. That is down substantially from the 12-month period ending in December 2009, when the sector showed a net loss of 6,500 jobs.

Several local banks, including Cardinal Bank and Sandy Spring Bank, this year have reported that they are adding jobs.

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