What is Wells Fargo?

Published by Thomas Herold in Banking, Trading

'Wells Fargo' is explained in detail and with examples in the Banking edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.

Wells Fargo has been one of the big four U.S. banks since its acquisition of Wachovia in 2008. This ranks it with JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America. The bank grew to be the third biggest U.S. bank counted by assets as of the conclusion of 2015.

Ranked by home mortgage servicing, deposits, and debit cards, it is the second biggest American bank. Globally it figures as high as second largest bank in the world by market capitalization. The mostly U.S. focused bank is so large that in 2015, Forbes Magazine Global 2000 ranked it as the seventh biggest public company in the globe.

At the end of 2015, Wells Fargo Bank counted 8,700 retail branches with 13,000 ATM machines, over 100,000 employees, and 70 million customers. Though it is primarily a U.S. centered financial institution, it does maintain operations through 35 countries. These international centers mostly cater to large business corporations and other banks, and are not consumer or small business operations.

The present day shape of Wells Fargo Bank resulted from a merger and acquisition. In 1998, the Wells Fargo & Company merged with Norwest Corporation of Minneapolis. The bank’s Financial Crisis era 2008 acquisition of Wachovia, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, allowed the company to become one of the dominant U.S. based financial institutions. It transferred the headquarters of the absorbed banks to its historic headquarters city of San Francisco where its original bank has been based since 1852.

The bank originally arose as a single subsidiary of the Wells, Fargo & Co. that Henry Wells and William Fargo founded in San Francisco to serve the West of the United States. Their new company in 1852 began offering both banking services via buying gold and selling bank drafts guaranteed by gold and express services. The express division offered quick delivery of gold and any other items of value around the West and eventually the entire country.

The present day company’s corporate symbol hails from its days of operating the overland stagecoach line in the 1860s, of which the Pony Express became a part. This service provided mail and business delivery via the fastest transportation available, including stagecoach, railroad, steamship, telegraph, and pony rides.

By 1888 the company’s stage lines connected the country as the United States’ first nationwide express operation. This service peaked at 10,000 locations throughout the U.S. before the Federal Government assumed control of the national express network as part of the World War I endeavors. The seizure left the company with only its single Wells Fargo & Co’s Bank in San Francisco that had separated from the Wells Fargo & Co Express in 1905.

The bank spent the rest of the 20th century rebuilding and expanding. It went from a banker’s bank in 1923 serving the whole West to a California statewide consumer bank in the 1980s. At this point it was the seventh biggest bank in the United States until the merger and acquisition catapulted it into the big four American banks.

Today Wells Fargo Bank offers its U.S. customers a wide range of products and services including checking and savings accounts, mortgages, credit cards, student loans, financial planning, insurance, business banking, and business and personal loans. Outside of the U.S. it does not have branches which provide consumer or small business customer services.

It does offer large businesses, corporations, and other banks services in 35 countries which include foreign banking, foreign exchange hedging strategies, exporting and importing, global supply chain finance, international payments, currency risk  management, and help expanding into foreign markets.

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The term 'Wells Fargo' is included in the Banking edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.