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The Big Take

Wells Fargo Plans Major Retreat From Mortgage Business It Long Dominated

Scandals spur a debate among new leaders at bank that once set records

During the 2008 financial crisis, many large lenders faced tens of billions of dollars in liability from mortgage-related operations and retreated. Wells Fargo held itself out as the exception.

During the 2008 financial crisis, many large lenders faced tens of billions of dollars in liability from mortgage-related operations and retreated. Wells Fargo held itself out as the exception.

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Wells Fargo & Co. plans to shrink its vast mortgage empire, which once churned out one of every three home loans in the US and for a time made the bank the most valuable in the nation.

No longer committed to ranking No. 1 in the business, Wells Fargo’s leadership is preparing a retreat that will probably start with the bank’s ties to outside mortgage firms that generated roughly a third of its $205 billion in new home loans last year, according to people with knowledge of the decision. The strategy shift follows changes in the executive ranks and years of struggles to avoid costly regulatory probes and hits to the bank’s reputation.