Wells Fargo Bank closes representative office in Manila

Published June 11, 2021, 5:20 PM

by Lee C. Chipongian

Wells Fargo Bank N.A., a US-based global financial services company, has closed its representative office in Manila last May 31.

The circular letter issued by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and signed on June 10, did not indicate the reasons why the American financial institution has stopped operating its representative office in the country.

It only said “cessation of operations of Wells Fargo Bank” which was “noted” by the Monetary Board in a Resolution No. 695 dated June 3, 2021.

The circular letter is for the “information and guidance” of the public, according to BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier who signed the memo.

Last year, it was reported that Wells Fargo Bank has downsized and reorganized its Philippine operation, particularly its backroom, outsourced operations in the country. It was reported in 2020 that the US bank has downsized its workers from 750 to just 50 in the Philippines.

Foreign banks usually set up a representative office first before setting up a full bank branch.

A representative office is limited to promotional functions. It does not derive income from the host country and is fully subsidized by its head office.

There are 11 representative offices in the country, not including Wells Fargo Bank. The banks with rep offices are Bank of Singapore, Bank of Taiwan, Credit Suisse AG, DBS Bank, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Korea Eximbank, Rothschild (Singapore) Limited, State Bank of India, the Bank of New York Mellon, Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank and UBS AG Philippines.

Based on a Wells Fargo website, it said it first established a presence in the Philippines in 1901, amid a Philippine-American war period. In 2011, it opened an “operations function” in Manila that includes data analytics, finance and accounting.