Get ready to say good-bye to Wachovia. The bank’s name and its blue and green logo are about to become a thing of the past in most parts of the country. They will be replaced by Wells Fargo and its stagecoach logo.
Wells Fargo agreed to buy Wachovia as at the peak of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008. Wachovia ran into deep trouble because of its exposure to bad mortgages right before the housing bubble burst. The deal allowed Wells Fargo, which was dominant in the West and Midwest, to extend its presence in eastern and southern United States.
When the takeover is completed, Wells Fargo will convert nearly 900 Wachovia locations. Wachovia branches in the West, Northeast and parts of the Southeast have already changed over; Florida switches in June and July of 2011. Wachovia’s former home state of North Carolina will be the last to convert when branches there are made over in mid-October.
The most obvious changes will be cosmetic. The Wachovia logo will completely disappear. It will be replaced by Wells Fargo’s logo with its red and gold color scheme. You’re likely to see more of those logos in banks too. (The bank is big on branding.) But your account numbers will not change and can continue to use your existing debit cards unless you request one or your card expires.
Still, you can expect some changes beyond the massive re-branding effort. In the past, Wachovia waived ATM fees when some customers used other banks’ machines. But Wells Fargo dropped that perk last year, saying customers now have access to more ATMs across the country.
Wachovia customers will be able to keep existing free checking accounts, but those accounts won’t be offered to new customers anymore. Online bankers will see a big change too. They’ll have to log into Wells Fargo’s website and they’ll start getting new statements. Customers can still use their old checks until they run out.
Customers who actually go inside bank branches may also take notice of the increase in personnel, as some locations will have seven tellers instead of three. A key part of Wells Fargo’s banking model is cross-selling products like credit cards and loans. In order to make that happen, the bank needs to have enough employees on hand and has been adding workers since completing the merger.
Other integrations already completed include Wachovia Mortgage’s change to Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and combining brokerage operations under Wells Fargo Advisors.