Wells Fargo wealth-management team bolts for Truist

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Truist, the seventh-largest U.S. bank, has set up a wealth-management shop in Chicago after hiring nearly 10 employees from Wells Fargo’s local private banking operation.

The Wells Fargo team, many of whom had been with the San Francisco-based bank for over a decade, managed more than $1 billion in client assets at Wells.

For Charlotte, N.C.-based Truist, it’s a toehold in a region in which the bank has only a small presence. Truist has an investment banking unit here, as well as an insurance brokerage and real estate lending unit, according to a spokeswoman.

Moves en masse like this are common in sales-oriented financial services businesses like insurance brokerage and mortgage lending. They’re somewhat less common in the high-touch business of catering to the wealthy.

The local team that went to Truist typically handles clients with investable assets of $5 million and above, although that’s not a hard cutoff. Clients often are business owners who need multiple financial services such as trust and tax handling.

Truist is the name the bank adopted after the merger of BB&T and SunTrust in late 2019. It’s not a familiar name to Chicagoans, but leaders of the local wealth-management arm aren’t concerned about lack of brand awareness.

“This is a relationship business,” Colleen McCaffery, managing director of Truist Wealth in Chicago, said in an interview. “It’s less about the brand and more about the people.”

McCaffery was at Wells Fargo for 21 years before jumping to Truist.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declines to comment. The bank still has wealth managers in Chicago after the departure of this team.

Chicago is an attractive market for wealth managers given its abundance of mid-size privately held businesses, which create wealth for owners—often families. It’s home, of course, to Northern Trust, which has a longstanding position handling the money of families, often going back generations.

But other heavyweights like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have significant market share in Chicago as well.

While a small-scale player in Chicago as a retail bank, Wells Fargo employs thousands locally who make loans to businesses, manage money and originate mortgages. Wells is the nation’s fourth-largest bank by assets.

Heading Truist’s new office is Regional Managing Director Frank Carbonara, a veteran of Chicago’s wealth-management scene with stints of six years each at Wells Fargo and before that JPMorgan Chase.

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