Edwin F. Major has joined Wells Fargo Bank in the newly created position of managing director. He will be responsible for developing new corporate and private banking business in Southern California.
For the past seven years, Major was executive director of Merrill Lynch Private Capital in Los Angeles, a unit of the New York brokerage that provided loans and other financial services for individual investors. It was merged into other parts of the brokerage last year.
Major, 62, also spent 17 years as an executive with Union Bank in Los Angeles, where his colleagues included Carl E. Reichardt, now chairman and chief executive of Wells Fargo, and Paul Hazen, president of Wells Fargo.
One of Major's employees at Union was John F. Grundhofer, who is now his boss as Wells Fargo's vice chairman for Southern California.
Bringing in Major is a clear attempt by the San Francisco-based bank to expand its presence in two highly competitive banking areas in Southern California--services for medium-sized companies and private banking, which offers special financial services to wealthy individuals.
"We have decided to rifle-shoot various target businesses and these are two," Grundhofer said in an interview Thursday.
A number of large banks from outside the state are competing with California institutions for customers in those two areas. Among them are New York's Citibank, two Chicago-based institutions, Contintental Bank and Northern Trust, as well as such foreign banks as Credit Suisse and Swiss Bank Corp.
Wells has been trying to beef up its private banking division during the past three years. A key selling point has been the expertise that the bank has gained managing $60 billion in assets for institutional investors.
Wells Fargo recently became one of the few banks in the country to open a full-service brokerage, and it is using that new network plus its private banking division in an attempt to market new services for individual investors.
Major, who has extensive contacts among middle-market businesses from his days at Union, said he plans to divide his time equally between developing new corporate business and expanding the private banking operation.