Wells Fargo is closing one of its three bank branches in Charlottesville as part of a nationwide plan to scale back its brick-and-mortar footprint amid a company-reported uptick in customers making digital transactions.
The San Francisco-based financial institution and fourth-largest U.S. bank made no promises that the four employees that currently staff the branch at 2100 Ivy Road will keep their jobs or be moved to a nearby branch after it closes on Nov. 1.
The company has made a conscious effort to shed physical branches and workers to bring costs down and streamline operations over the past three years, and bank leaders say more cuts are ahead.
“These are not easy decisions, and we don’t take them lightly,” Wells Fargo spokesman Kenrick Thomas told The Daily Progress via email. “At this time, we don’t know the employee impact. Our leadership team will make every attempt to place employees in positions in other branches. We understand the impact closing a branch can have and are very thoughtful and deliberate in our approach. We commit to communicating openly and honestly with impacted employees.”
The Ivy Road branch is one of two in Virginia that will close on Nov. 1, the company said. The other location is at 112 E. Grace St. in Richmond.
Another Richmond branch at 8215 W. Broad St. is set to close Oct. 28. Yet another Richmond location at 3501 W. Broad St. closed in mid-September, according to the company.
Other branch closures have been announced in California and Pennsylvania.
The closures and cost-cutting began in earnest three years ago, when Wells Fargo launched a $10 billion expense-reduction effort. Nearly 50,000 workers have lost their jobs as a result of that effort, and the branch count has dwindled from roughly 8,000 reported in Wells Fargo’s 2022 annual report to roughly 7,000 as of August this year.
Wells Fargo has cut roughly 6% of its bank branches since this time last year, Chief Financial Officer Michael Santomassimo said on the company’s Friday earnings calls.
“This company is not efficient — like, period. End of story,” CEO Charlie Scharf said on that call. “Even with all of the reductions that we’ve made, it’s not surprising because as you peel the onion back, other things present themselves.”
During the same call, bank leaders reported a net income of $5.8 billion for the third quarter, up from $3.6 billion in the same period last year.
Like other major financial institutions, the bank said it has had an increase in customers preferring mobile and digital banking.
"We are seeing more mobile adoption momentum, adding over 520,000 mobile active users in the third quarter, our best quarterly growth since first quarter of 2021," Scharf said on Friday.
While several branches have been cut, some of those that remain will be getting makeovers.
“We’re also making investments in refurbishing branches across our existing network,” Santomassimo said on the call. “We are bringing our digital onboarding experience to our branches, creating a fast and easy experience for our customers.”
The company emphasized that physical branches will remain a part of its calculus going forward.
"Branches continue to play an important role in the way we serve our customers, and we continuously evaluate our branch network in light of changing customer needs, the increase in the use of digital banking and market factors,” Wells Fargo said in the statement announcing the Charlottesville closure.
After Nov. 1, Wells Fargo will have two physical bank branches within Charlottesville city limits, not including ATMs: one at 123 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall and one at 901 Emmet St. N in Barracks Road Shopping Center.