A Warning on the Wells Fargo Securities Investment Banking Summer Analyst Program

As a former "investment banking" summer analyst at Wells Fargo Securities a couple years ago, I wanted to give all of y'all a heads up before you sign an offer.

wells fargo investment banking overview

The way that Wells did group placement was pretty ass back in my day (and I'm pretty sure they haven't changed it).

Well Fargo Investments Placement Process

In terms of group placement after signing the offer, Wells combines their normal IBD groups (coverage, M&A, Sponsors, etc.), their capital markets groups (LevFin, DCM, ECM, Syndications), public finance, and their asset backed finance (structured finance/lending) groups into the same "investment banking" recruiting pipeline.

Wells Fargo NYC is Not Guaranteed

The real kicker is how Wells does location. Instead of applying, interviewing, and getting an offer for a specific city like every other bank in the world, **Wells places you into a city AFTER you sign the offer**. And what they don't tell you until you find out for yourselves is that around 70%+ of positions are in Charlotte, not New York City or San Francisco.

And while there is a group matching process, HR plays a heavy role and almost everyone preferences normal IBD groups in NYC, SF, or LA as their top choice so you can imagine how much of a shitshow that becomes. So after you sign the offer, there's a very likely (in fact more than likely) chance that you could get placed in something like syndicated finance or asset backed finance in Charlotte, especially with returning sophomore diversity interns taking up a lot of the NYC/SF spots before group placement for junior interns even begins.

There is the possibility of switching groups between your SA and FT stint, however there tend to be very few or no spots in NYC or SF FT and everyone in Charlotte tries to switch out of cities so people successfully doing it are few and far between.

Review of Investment Banking Internship

There's a reason they do recruiting this way since they can't get a whole lot of good talent to come to Charlotte or work in their shitter groups without being super bait and switchy. I mean it is Wells Fargo, you shouldn't be surprised at this point if they're doing shady shit.

So unless you're super open to the idea of ending up working in Charlotte and syndicating loans or lending against mortgages despite signing an "investment banking" offer letter, I'd strongly encourage you to go through the recruiting process at other banks before locking yourself into Wells too early.

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Comments (73)

Jul 30, 2017 - 6:37pm

Sounds like an excellent opportunity for desperate monkeys to get a food inside the IB door. Rent is cheaper, there's less competition, and how bad can Charlotte be? Sure, the job may be lackluster, but at least you can use this internship as a leverage for something better, come next year. (But I agree, bait and switch sucks, especially when it's this severe)

Jul 31, 2017 - 7:47am

Charlotte is without a doubt a worse city in terms of career development opportunities and for most people, arguably a worse city in terms of recreational activities as well. The entire downtown area is like 5x5 blocks.

You could certainly do a lot worse than Wells Charlotte, but they really are incredibly bait and switchy. I just wanted to give a heads up to people before they signed with Wells to at least play the field with other banks first cause there's a pretty significant potential downside case when you sign with WF.

Jul 31, 2017 - 8:57am

And a massively better city in terms of quality of life. For the cost of a 1-bedroom in NYC you can be living in a house riding a BMW to work in Charlotte.......typically working a lot fewer weekend hours than NYC bankers.

If you want to be in IBD long term and aren't looking for PE or other prestige exit opportunities it's probably better to build a career in mid-market in a tier 2 city. Sure you'll miss out on living in "the big apple", but the overall lifestyle is massively better and you'll probably have significantly more take home income due to lower taxes and cost of life.

Best Response
Jul 31, 2017 - 2:03am

If its not a bait and switch, then why don't they just have separate applications for each city like every other bank in the world? And why do they group stuff like public finance, securization, and syndications (which obviously has much fewer people interested in it and most other banks recruit separately for) into the same recruiting pipeline as IBD? Neither JPM nor Barclays nor to the best of my knowledge any other bank in the world group their securitization groups into their IBD recruiting process.

It's a moot point to say that you anecdotally know people in coverage groups at WF Charlotte, cause I also anecdotally know plenty of unhappy people who were placed into groups like syndications and asset backed finance. In fact, the biggest group, and the one you have the highest chance to get placed in, is their asset backed finance group in Charlotte.

And from the people in Wells IBD Charlotte that I've stayed in touch with from my internship, PE or any type of buyside recruiting is significantly more challenging in Charlotte. There are simply a lot less opportunities in the South than there are in NYC, Boston, SF, Chicago, etc. A couple of them ended up lateraling away to better banks in NYC to do PE recruiting since they found it too challenging to do it at Wells Charlotte.

Looking at your post history too, you haven't even graduated college yet and clearly have never been through the PE associate recruiting process.

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Jul 31, 2017 - 1:33am

I mean, isn't CMBS/ABS lending/securitization considered IBD at most banks? I know GS categorizes it as such, so I doubt that there's anything wrong in recruiting for it with the rest of IBD.

University of Chicago
Jul 31, 2017 - 11:01pm

Not really, to the best of my knowledge pretty much every other bank has a separate recruitment processes for ABS lending/securitization away from traditional IBD (either under capital markets, S&T, or its entirely own thing). From what I've heard, when you apply to GS, you apply for either classical IBD or financing which is where structured finance would fall under.

The type of work you do in ABS is completely different, and as an analyst on the banking side you do very little modeling work since there are usually quant teams that do the actual modeling and structuring. The exit opps are also completely different as well and a lot more limited.

And overall the deals you'd be working on at Wells ABF would be pretty boring/vanilla. Given how conservative Well's credit culture is, you won't have the chance to work on the more exotic, esoteric stuff other banks might be doing.

Jul 31, 2017 - 2:15am

IDK if the exit opps are that limited--granted, I don't know that much about other sectors under ABS, but CMBS allows full Debt HF and REPE exits so it seems only somewhat limited compared to IBD.

Then again, I suppose that means you accept being pigeonholed into debt or RE...

University of Chicago
Jul 31, 2017 - 1:38am

Just wanted to comment and add a friend of mine's story on WF. Long story short, he worked 30-40 hours per week in CB with the expectation that he would be granted a FT position in their IBD prior to completion of this "internship". In hindsight, my friend was dumb and never got it in writing, but basically, after doing all the work for the entire semester, he received a generic mass messaged email stating that all position changes would not be granted. However, another friend at WF is working in their IBD and hasn't had any issues.

Aug 1, 2017 - 7:01am

Can you clarify the difference when you say lev fin and syndications? From my understanding wells has a pretty decent lev fin team which at the analyst and associate level covered all syndicated loans (revolvers, tla, tlb) and high yield origination, structuring, and execution. While a syndicate team for each product sits between lev fin and S&T to provide market knowledge and assist in pricing. Granted len fin is based in Charlotte with an outpost in San Francisco.

Aug 1, 2017 - 8:54am

Having gone through the WF process many years ago, I can agree that most of what the original post says is true. However, I would caveat that with the fact that the post is definitely written with a negative connotation from what sounds like someone who got burned in the process. If you are interviewing for WF and are not at least somewhat aware that you may end up in Charlotte, you should probably drop out of the process. While it is possible to end up in NYC, the vast majority of WF jobs are in Charlotte (including their M&A group). Again, I agree with many of the ideas pointed out about the recruiting process, but take it with a grain of salt as there are many people that viewed their process positively.

Aug 1, 2017 - 1:45pm

When Wells Fargo had a gun put to its head to "merge" with Wachovica, part of the deal was moving Wells Fargo Securities to Charlotte to take up floors in the Duke Energy Center (which Wells is now the proud owner of) which was originally intended to be Wachovias new fancy headquarters. Obviously when that happened, former gigs that were once in SF and NYC are now in Charlotte.

Sleekerman's grievances hold truth, and is a good PSA. If you are going to recruit with Wells realize that Charlotte is the hub.

Aug 2, 2017 - 5:26pm

I have no dog in this fight but the OP is 100% right.

Also I don't think he's saying everyone should avoid WF like the plague, but OP is providing a warning to those who may be elated at having an "IBD" offer but not realizing the downsides vs. other IBD offers.

It's akin to having UBS kick IBD people into ops back in 2009, but having this be a common practice today where half the class goes into ops. I'm pretty sure you would want someone to warn you about your offer in this scenario, no?

Aug 3, 2017 - 11:27pm

Yeah, this was exactly my point. There's certainly worse jobs out there, but I just wanted to warn people before they signed with Wells about the various "caveats" that come with their offers. I made the mistake of turning down other offers which in hindsight I would have taken if I knew about how shitty Wells did placements.

Aug 4, 2017 - 5:55am

Charlotte is significantly smaller than NYC, obviously, this means there is going to be fewer things to do in the city and fewer exit options. If you're applying to Well's, you shouldn't be disillusioned by where you're going to be placed since their IB department is headquartered in Charlotte. As a result, a predominant amount of available internships will be located there. If you don't like the idea of working in Charlotte, you probably shouldn't apply. Additionally, if you do your job well and know how to network, you won't have a problem exiting Wells or BofA from Charlotte. I have spoken with several alumni at my school (not-NC located) who now work at premier hedge funds and PE firms and began as analysts at these banks. In our conversations said they had no problems making the move, it's just how hard you're willing to work to make the connections needed.

Aug 5, 2017 - 1:03am

Wells pays the same regardless of location. So $130-140k for a first year. Def would go very far.

"I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
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Sep 22, 2019 - 9:01pm

I work there currently, it's 85K base, 10K signing bonus, and 25K stub bonus first year. Great money when you're paying 1300 for a single in downtown.

Aug 5, 2017 - 9:59am

When I went through the recruitment process at Wells, they would deliberately mislead you. I went to a target school in the northeast (also grew up in the northeast) so naturally everyone wanted NYC. During on-campus info sessions and chats with alum, they would significantly downplay your odds of getting placed in Charlotte (nobody ever mentioned that 70%+ of headcount was in Charlotte), and you would get repeatedly assured that if you're from the northeast you would get placed in NYC with no problem if you wanted. However, as it turned out, a significant chunk of the people placed in Charlotte were people who went to school in the northeast and/or from the NYC area, and a lot of people ended up bitter and disillusioned.

And as someone who went through the PE associate recruiting process myself, I can assure you that is also absolutely not true. The alum you have spoken too are obviously biased and told by HR to be cheerleaders for the bank. While not impossible, recruiting from Charlotte will significantly handicap your opportunities and abilities to network, and you'd almost certainly be better off with another bank in NYC.

Aug 4, 2017 - 11:41am

Wells Fargo... Charlotte...

Cheer up, Bateman. What's the matter? No shiatsu this morning?
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Jun 26, 2018 - 6:58am

Some real salty WF monkeys here...

Cheer up, Bateman. What's the matter? No shiatsu this morning?
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Aug 5, 2017 - 12:44am

I have spent more than a year in Charlotte working for a company investing in undervalued assets and counted days till the moment when I'd be able to move back to New York.
Putting aside the fact that it's the South (i.e. everything is veeeery slow), there is literally nothing to do in the whole area neither at night nor during the day. Why would you work 80+ hours making money you have nothing to spend on?
The only bright side of Charlotte is the airport: conveniently located and with direct connections to the major US cities (international flights suck, though).

Aug 5, 2017 - 9:32am

Yeah, my feelings exactly. I'm sure people who grew up in the South or in small towns won't mind. But if you grew up near any kind of major metropolitan area and/or outside the South, you'll probably hate Charlotte. It's a tiny city with very little nightlife or much else to do.

Aug 5, 2017 - 1:37pm

I had the unfortunate displeasure of having to work there for a year and a half. Even if you do go out at night (there are a decent number of bars), you run into 25 BAML or WF people you'd rather not see. The WORST.

Cheer up, Bateman. What's the matter? No shiatsu this morning?
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Aug 5, 2017 - 9:23pm

Uhhh, Wells Fargo is huge in Charlotte. If you didn't know that before signing up for Wells--lol at you.

Also, Charlotte is probably the 2nd largest(but distant) financial center in country. BAML is there, as it's hub.

Charlotte is a fine city. I've lived there, ideally not a place that I would "love" to live again but no real complaints. Cool city.

Aug 6, 2017 - 9:52am

Not everyone in the world is from Charlotte or the south so I don't know how you expect people to magically know Wells is huge in Charlotte. WFS also does their recruiting nationwide, and when I went through the recruitment process at Wells, they would deliberately mislead you. I went to a target school in the northeast (also grew up in the northeast) so naturally everyone wanted NYC. During on-campus info sessions and chats with alum, they would significantly downplay your odds of getting placed in Charlotte (nobody ever mentioned that 70%+ of headcount was in Charlotte), and you would get repeatedly assured that if you're from the northeast you would get placed in NYC with no problem if you wanted. However, as it turned out, a significant chunk of the people placed in Charlotte were people who went to school in the northeast and/or from the NYC area, and a lot of people ended up bitter and disillusioned.

Charlotte is the 2nd largest "banking" city in the US because of all the BO and MO stuff that BofA and Wells has there. In terms of IBD, Wells is pretty much the only player. From what I've heard, BAML has and is continuing to unwind down their LevFin group in Charlotte, and besides that all you have are tiny satellite offices of a few MM banks. In terms of opportunities in "investment banking", there are very little outside of Wells despite being the "2nd largest banking city" in the US. And in terms of buyside opportunities, there's even less.

And while you might love Charlotte and there's nothing wrong with that, it's undeniably a dick move for Wells to bait and switch people into working there.

Aug 6, 2017 - 11:39am

Some Southern douchie keeps minusing the posts that criticize WF and Charlotte. At least, we know who voted for the current president.

Aug 6, 2017 - 12:12pm

Did you read the post?

"Not everyone in the world is from Charlotte or the south so I don't know how you expect people to magically know Wells is huge in Charlotte."

Dude, if you're signing up for a gig in finance and you are applying to a relatively prestigious bank, you should know some of the largest locations. You don't need to be from Charlotte to know that, you need to know finance in general. Get your head in the game.

It's like signing up for energy trading blindly location-wise and being told you're going to be based in Calgary(. That shit's real. Calgary is a big hub for that. Then complaining, oh man I didn't know Calgary was a hub. I'm not from Calgary, how would I know. No, dumbo, you signed up for energy trading in a location blindly this is a part of the gig.

As for your last point, I don't love Charlotte. I wouldn't be so thrilled to move back, but would for a good opportunity. But yes, I do agree, it's a dirty move for bait & switch. Absolutely dirty move. And not just cause it's Charlotte vs. New York, but what if you're family is in New York, etc. There's other stuff to it besides job liquidity. You always gotta let people know where they may end up cause that's make it or rbreak it for them. There's no good business practice like that.

Aug 6, 2017 - 3:19pm

I think the post is useful information for prospective monkeys but agree that the tone is negative.

Honestly this is all part of doing your due diligence on any firm you apply for. I've never worked at Wells but it was always common knowledge that most of the company's IB opportunities are based in Charlotte rather than NYC. A simple LinkedIn search will also reveal as much.

I think each bank treats its IBD pipeline and the various functions it feeds into differently and you have to do your due diligence prior to accepting an offer. Certain functions are considered "IBD" at different banks. For instance, from those in my network that have gone through the SunTrust process, I can share that the bank also lumps in certain asset securitization groups with IBD in addition to leveraged credit underwriting (group called Acquisition Finance) which is effectively doing 4-5x debt/EBITDA deals in the bank market (not to be confused with Lev Fin) whereas groups like these typically fall within credit/corporate banking at other shops.

Aug 13, 2017 - 6:25pm

I went to school in the Northeast, and the OCR was pretty deceptive. The people that came on-campus would repeatedly say that if you wanted NYC you would pretty much be guaranteed to get it. We all assumed that the people who got placed in Charlotte were people who went to school in the South. As things ended up, a sizeable chunk of the people who got placed in Charlotte were people who did not go to school and had 0 ties to the South, and almost all of them were unhappy with their geographic placement. I just wanted to give people a behind the scenes look at how placement at Wells Fargo actually works so people don't fall for the same BS from campus recruitment that I fell for.

Aug 14, 2017 - 8:06pm

Its unfortunate that the OCR team oversold NYC. Perhaps they were trying to say that typically people have a good track record of getting the placement they want but seems like that was oversold.

However, the point I am making, prior to even going through OCR interviews @ Wells you could have found out from WSO how many of the company's product/coverage groups are based in CLT vs NYC. From that you'd be able to make some inferences...

For those with the mentality is NYC or bust Wells would never be a top tier choice given so many of their positions are based in CLT.

Sep 18, 2019 - 9:13pm

That is a partially incorrect statement. I know a few folks at SunTrust that work in both groups:

-certain coverage teams in fact do modeling, this is group dependent and the nature of transactions coming through

-acquisition finance does cash flow / credit modeling on bank debt transactions. They'll own the underwriting / deal execution process soup to nuts for leveraged loans.

Aug 18, 2017 - 10:10am

Wow you sure do have a strong distaste for Wells and Charlotte.

I think you need to point out the fact that Wells Securities is growing tremendously quickly.

I want to point out this from Jamie Dimon - "JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon told Bloomberg earlier this month Wells Fargo was 'very actively, very aggressively, and very successfully building its U.S. investment bank.'"

They are moving their current NYC spot to Hudson Yards in 2020 along with KKR. What does that mean? More headcount and a sign that Wells is and wants to continue to grow its IBD/Trading business.

If you can somehow get a guarantee in writing that you will be placed in NYC, I do not see any point in not taking up a Wells offer.

Aug 18, 2017 - 2:01pm

Wells Fargo has grown their IB business quite a bit the past decade, and that quote from Jamie was over a year ago. Since then though, there doesn't seem like there's been much growth. In terms of 2017 YTD, if you look at the league tables Wells Fargo has fallen a bit in terms of both ranking and market share.

In terms of guaranteeing a NYC offer, good luck making that happen. All of the junior interns get the same boilerplate non-location specific offer. HR is pretty deceptive during OCR info sessions too claiming that if you want New York you'll end up getting it, but that definitely is not the case.

Sep 22, 2019 - 5:25pm

Exactly, a lot of other banks will have IB hub offices in random cities like Minneapolis, Atlanta, Cleveland, etc. but to the best of my knowledge almost every other firm that does so has separate job postings by location. The fact that Wells tries to pull this shit is honestly disgusting, and people should be properly informed about what they're getting themselves into when they sign an "investment banking" offer with Wells Fargo.

Aug 8, 2019 - 6:33pm

Bump just to hopefully bring this thread back to life

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Aug 26, 2019 - 6:48pm

I went through the process last summer, and it still is done similarly. However, it seems as though the OP is bitter with his outcome, and this is not an accurate representation of how the majority of people who go through the process feel.

If you want to be placed in NY and you network a lot, you will almost certainly be placed in NY. From my experience, everyone I know who wanted to be in NY was able to be in NY.

Also, with Wells Fargo Securities moving to Hudson Yards there will most likely be more spots in NY,

Overall, if you network a lot for the groups and locations you want to be in, you should be able to get those groups. I think HR does a great job at placing people where they want to be and where they are most likely to succeed.

Sep 22, 2019 - 5:21pm

This is definitely not true. Most of the headcount for the "IBD" interns is in Charlotte, and when I interned there most of the other interns I spoke to said they'd rather be in NYC, San Francisco, etc. Almost everyone is gunning for the positions in NYC, SF, LA which obviously doesn't match the availability of positions leaving many many people disgruntled and unsatisfied.

In fact in the group in Charlotte that I interned in, out of the ~10 of us that got return offers, only a single person actually accepted the return offer. One single person. I think that speaks for itself for how satisfied people felt about getting placed in Charlotte.

Sep 22, 2019 - 5:14pm

I lived 10 weeks in Charlotte as part of the internship and hated every second of it. It might be livable if you're from the South or lived all your life in a dinky small town, but if you're from the Northeast and grew up in cities like New York or Boston, Charlotte will simply suck in comparison. It's especially terrible when you're young as there's only like 5 "hip" bars/clubs in the uptown area and odds are you'll run into the same people at Wells or BofA there every weekend. The CoL is obviously higher in other finance hub cities, but I'd take that trade-off any day rather than waste away my 20s living in Charlotte.

Also, other banks like Goldman do recruit for offices in random location like Salt Lake City but almost everyone else specifically recruits for those locations so you know what you're getting yourself into instead of what Wells is doing by dangling the prospects of a NYC placement in front of you and then shipping you off to Charlotte after you've signed your offer.

Oct 8, 2019 - 4:26pm

The arrogance of you Northerneasterners is astounding. Did you ever consider that living in a tiny old crammed studio apartment paying $4k+ a month just so you can experience "the most hip nightlife ever" isn't the universal American dream? To me, "wasting away my 20's" is spending all my money on rent, food, and alcohol in a hyper-materialistic superficial bubble full of sociopathic behavior.

Oct 8, 2019 - 3:13pm

I went through the process last year, and was pretty successful at getting what group/location I wanted, as were most of my friends who interned at the bank last year. Happy to talk through DM about what I think one needs to do in order to successfully navigate the process.

Jun 1, 2020 - 3:33am

I think sophomore group placement is even more random, but it doesn't really matter as much to them since most of them leverage their sophomore internships at Wells to lateral to better banks for their junior summer.

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