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Wells Fargo Asset Management Chief Kristi Mitchem Moves to BMO

Mitchem has left the troubled bank’s asset management division to become CEO at BMO Global Asset Management.

BMO Financial Group has hired Kristi Mitchem from Wells Fargo & Co. to lead its global asset management division as its current head will soon retire.

Mitchem, who was chief executive officer of the bank's asset management, will begin her new role on March 18, according to a statement Wednesday from BMO. She replaces Richard Wilson, who is retiring after four years as CEO of BMO Global Asset Management.

Wilson helped position BMO as a “significant global asset manager,” bringing the division’s assets under management to more than $320 billion, according to Joanna Rotenberg, group head of BMO Wealth Management. Mitchem, who will report Rotenberg, held senior roles at State Street Corp. and BlackRock before working at Wells Fargo.

“Her asset management expertise, creativity, and technological acumen will be a strong catalyst in our next chapter of growth,” Rotenberg said in the statement. 

Mitchem, who holds an MBA from the Stanford University, oversaw 28 investment teams and about $500 billion of assets at Wells Fargo Asset Management. Her tenure at the asset manager, which began in June 2016, came during a tumultuous time for Wells Fargo Bank, which in September 2016 was fined by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for opening millions of unauthorized credit card and deposit accounts on behalf of unsuspecting consumers.

Wells Fargo apologized about a year later for “unacceptable sales practices” at its retail bank, saying a completed, third-party review of banking accounts paved the way to remediation.

[II Deep Dive: Wells Fargo Scandal Could Drag on Asset Management Arm]

Early last year, the Federal Reserve announced that it would restrict the growth of Wells Fargo until its governance and risk management “sufficiently improves.” Mitchem addressed the Fed order in a video message posted on Wells Fargo’s website, noting that the order would not impact Wells Fargo Asset Management’s ability to grow its assets under management.  

At the end of last year, the unit had $466 billion under management, a decrease of 8 percent from the prior year, according to Wells Fargo’s 2018 earnings report.

Prior to joining Wells Fargo, Mitchem served as executive vice president and head of the Americas institutional client group at State Street Global Advisors. While at State Street, Mitchem – described by BMO as a career-long advocate for diversity and inclusion – helped the firm launch the SHE index, an exchange-traded fund that tracks firms with gender diverse leadership.

“Kristi is highly respected across the industry,” said Darryl White, CEO of BMO Financial Group, in a statement. “I look forward to her joining our team and building on Richard’s success in leading BMO’s asset management business to drive exceptional performance and service for our clients.”

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