Wells Fargo to close approximately 400 branches by 2018

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(courtesy of Jacksonville Business Journal)

Wells Fargo officials announced last week that it plans to close more than 400 branches by the end of next year, in an effort to cut costs.

The bank was involved in a massive scandal last year wherein employees opened fake accounts totaling almost $2 million. The scandal resulted in the company eliminating sales goals for retail bankers and prompted federal investigations, but bank officials say the scandal is not the reason for the branch closings. Wells Fargo is planning to close hundreds of branches in the coming years.

In a statement from Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsberry, the bank is merely following a trend carried out by several large retail banks – closing locations and replacing them with automated systems and online bank products.

The statement also claims that many of the 200 closures it anticipates this year will be in close proximity to other locations it owns, and many of the employees can be transferred to nearby branches, which should limit layoffs.

Even after the bank closes an estimated 200 branches in 2018, Wells Fargo would still have 6,065 total branches, more than any other bank in the country.

“We continuously evaluate our branch network, and our physical distribution strategy is driven by customer behavior, market factors, economic trends and competitor actions,” said Rosanna Fiske, vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo’s southeast region. “While branches continue to be important in serving our customers’ needs, our investment in digital capabilities has enabled us to seamlessly serve our customers across channels and provide choice in how they bank with us.”

Fiske said at this time, she could not provide details on specific locations.

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