A new era begins
San Francisco-based Wells Fargo ushered in a new era of banking in
2008 when it merged with commerical banking giant Wachovia,
creating the fourth largest U.S. bank in terms of assets. Its main
business lines are retail, commercial, and corporate banking
services. Through subsidiary arms, Wells Fargo offers securities
brokerage and investment banking, wholesale banking, consumer
finance, mortgage banking, leasing, agricultural finance,
commercial finance, data processing, trust services, advisory,
mortgage-backed securities, and venture capital investment. It has
over 80 lines of business, some of the largest being community
banking, wholesale banking, home and consumer finance, and
investments and insurance. The bank's history goes back to 1852
when Henry Wells and William Fargo founded Wells, Fargo & Co.
during the West's gold rush. The firm offered banking services and
secure express delivery of gold, notes, and other valuable assets.
In the 1860s, the firm sealed its reputation for trustworthiness by
opening its famous stagecoach line, which made trips through the
then-Wild West to ensure delivery across the country. In 1918,
Wells Fargo's network was commandeered by the U.S. government as
part of its World War I efforts, leaving the bank with just one
location in San Francisco. Wells Fargo rebuilt during the 20th
century, becoming a regional bank in northern California and
operating in San Francisco as a banker's bank for the region. By
the 1980s, Wells Fargo had a major presence in California and was
the seventh largest bank in the nation. In the 1990s, it opened
locations throughout the West, Midwest, and several Eastern states.
Today, the firm serves nearly 50 million households and boasts
9,000 branches throughout the nation. It employs more than 266,000
people and is led by CEO John Stumpf.