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Wachovia-Wells Fargo transition continues

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

The Wachovia to Wells Fargo & Company transition is underway in Georgia, and across the Southeast, according to officials with Wells Fargo.

The company announced Wednesday that Wachovia signs will change to the Wells Fargo trademark at bank branches throughout the Southeast this year.

The bulk of the transition, which includes modifying Wachovia data systems, will take place in late October in the Southern Crescent, and will include eight banks in Henry County and five in Clayton County, said Jim Lawrence, community bank president for South Atlanta with Wachovia, now a part of Wells Fargo & Company.

"At that point, we will have the Wells Fargo product lineup, which is far more extensive than our current Wachovia lineup," Lawrence said.

Wachovia merged with Wells Fargo on Dec. 31, 2008, which was deemed the largest bank merger in U.S. history, according to the community bank president. The company, Lawrence said, currently has the largest market share, at 18 percent, for banking and deposits, worth $637.5 million, in Henry and Clayton counties.

Wells Fargo plans to transition its signs and data systems which are limited to the Southeast, he added. The company has already had conversions at bank branches in Western and Midwestern states to Wells Fargo's more diverse financial-services model.

The more robust model, Lawrence noted, has created 20 additional jobs locally, since fall 2009. It will provide Southern Crescent residents with products and services they did not have before, under Wachovia alone -- from homeowners and renters insurance to identity theft protection.

Lawrence said the company's nearly 280 bank branches state-wide will also undergo some form of remodeling, in order to facilitate the new services, which include credit card and payroll services for small businesses.

He said customers at the Stockbridge location, at 5490 North Henry Blvd., can see a prototype of a bank store which reflects Wells Fargo's open floor plan. The remodeled branch features a large mural depicting local history developed with the assistance of Georgia historians.

"We're dedicated to meeting as many of our customers' financial needs as possible and the new offerings are already helping," he said. "These are more ways we can help them succeed financially."

The impact of the Wachovia-Wells Fargo products and systems transition will be marginal, added Lawrence. Customers' existing checks and check cards should continue to operate properly throughout the transition.

"Holistically, there will be nothing different that customers need to do," he said. "We're working hard to be the best local bank in the Southern Crescent with all the advantages of a great national bank. Our customers like what we're doing, and we're looking forward to the transition in October."