New Wells Fargo unit to cater to ultrawealthy

Wells Fargo & Co. is looking to increasing its share of ultrawealthy customers with the launch this week of a new unit, Abbot Downing.

The firm, which San Francisco-based Wells said is part of its wealth, brokerage and retirement business, combines two previous Wells firms, Lowry Hill and Wells Fargo Family Wealth, and Calibre, a Wachovia legacy firm. Wells, a $1.3 trillion-asset banking company, came to Wichita through its 2008 acquisition of the former, Charlotte, N.C.-based Wachovia.

Wells operates eight bank branches in Kansas, including two in Wichita. It also operates Wells Fargo Advisors and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage offices in Wichita.

Wells said in a release that Abbot Downing will target the nearly 10,000 households in the United States that have $50 million or more in investable assets.

Angela Kaipust, spokeswoman for Wells Fargo’s Kansas and Nebraska region, said Abbot Downing already has clients in 50 states with $32.9 billion in client assets. She declined to specify how many are in Kansas.

There’s not one specific Abbot Downing office that will serve Kansas clients, she said. Abbot Downing has 16 offices, and the ones closest to Kansas are in Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago.

“It depends on client needs and the relationships they have,” she said. “We just go to where the client is and obviously keep in touch through email, phone, all those methods.”

In addition to asset management, Abbot Downing will offer to manage clients’ endowments and foundations. The name of the firm was adopted from the 19th Century stagecoach builder in New Hampshire that built Wells Fargo’s stagecoaches.

More information on the new firm is available at