Wells Fargo signals substantial layoffs ahead

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Wells Fargo’s cost-cutting efforts will include layoffs, most likely by the end of the year, Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry told investors at a Morgan Stanley conference on Wednesday.

“We now have the fact that we’re in a public health crisis, and we’ve committed to keep people on while that is true. But there will come a time, I assume at some point this year, when we get back to executing on programs that are in place, and some that are still under development, that are designed to get our total expense base, which for us means our total headcount, to as lean a state as we can responsibly operate,” said Shrewsberry, adding that automation and other changes can also contribute to expense cuts.

He said CEO Charlie Scharf’s focus now is the “risk and control work” that regulators require.

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Wells Fargo has more than 27,000 employees based in Charlotte. It’s too early to know how many layoffs there will be and how many will be in Charlotte.

In addition to the layoffs, the bank plans to automate more of their business and make other changes to become more efficient.

Shrewsberry also talked about the number of borrowers who aren’t paying their mortgages currently. He said 12% or 13% of Wells Fargo mortgage customers asked to pause their payments or go into forbearance.

The CFO said Wells Fargo intentionally made it easy for borrowers to do this, as a way to help families during the crisis.

Nationwide, nearly 9% of mortgages are in forbearance.