A joke circulates through employees of Wells Fargo Advisors that's been told so many times few people are laughing anymore that Research in Motion, the struggling maker of the Blackberry smartphone, would already be dead and gone if not for them.
Wells Fargo & Co., the bank that owns the investments firm, is one of the most strict corporations when it comes to the mobile devices employees use to conduct business. Wells Fargo does not allow employees to plug in their personal devices with corporate IT systems. Therefore, many of Wells Fargo's 270,000 employees worldwide carry and use two smartphones - one in one pocket issued by the company, and another in another pocket that belongs to them.
"They can't connect to our networks," a company spokesperson said earlier this year in an interview with Networkworld. "We won't let them."
Wells Fargo does say it gives employees a choice among smartphones they can use for work, including iPhones, Androids and Blackberrys, and the company has issued iPads made by Apple to some employees, but some who work for Wells Fargo Advisors say it's not that simple. If the company is giving a choice, they did not get the memo.
Blackberrys, said one Wells Fargo Advisors regional vice president who wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the company for speaking out on the issue, are what the company provides those who work for the brokerage firm side of the bank. He also said IT employees don't like being asked about the iPhone for company use.
"It scares them," he said of the iPhone.
So he is not unlike thousands of other employees who work for Wells Fargo Advisors. Talk with him for long and see that he's juggling two different phones at once, since not only does the company not let him tie his personal device into the system, it also won't distribute him an iPhone for work. The problem, he said, is that the Blackberry isn't as useful for work as his iPhone would be.
"It's the 21st century," he said, pointing to his work-issued Blackberry. "This thing is a dinosaur."
Employees of Wells Fargo Advisors are particularly disgruntled about the situation because, like many red-tape issues faced when one big financial firm merges with another, they were in a different situation before the company merged with the bank. Previously as Wachovia employees, they could connect personal devices to the bank's IT system as long as they were willing to sign a release allowing the bank to wipe it clean should they lose it.
So far, though, Wells Fargo has been unrelenting in protection of its IT system, forcing Wells Fargo Advisors employees and many employees of the bank itself to use Blackberry's for business and another phone for personal. The problem, he said, is that the busy world of today does not allow the two to be separated very easily. But, he said just getting rid of the Blackberry would help.
"If they would just issue iPhones instead of Blackberrys it would be better," the Wells Fargo Advisors employee said.