Scores of outside contractors and suppliers will also lose lucrative Crocker business. The prominent San Francisco law firm of Morrison & Foerster, for example, did nearly $4 million in legal business for Crocker last year. Although it will continue to handle some current cases after the merger, Crocker officials said, the bulk of the business will evaporate quickly.
Many of the staff units to be eliminated are in Crocker's handsome San Francisco corporate headquarters. One worker said the effect of the merger on these departments will be "like a neutron bomb. Only the building will be left."
Disposing of Crocker's leased quarters in the 37-story tower after the merger will pose problems for Wells Fargo's real estate staff. Crocker sold the building to raise cash and now pays $400,000 a floor on long-term leases for about one-third of the building. Wells' more-modest 12-story building in downtown San Francisco will be the combined bank's headquarters.
Harold Reichwald, executive vice president and Crocker's chief legal counsel, will lose his job in the deal, as will 12 of the 20 lawyers in his unit. He said the past several months have been a difficult time for everyone at Crocker.
"A lot of lives have been disrupted by this process," Reichwald said. "But you have to be prepared in this world to adapt to change. People in Crocker have to come to grips with that. Change also presents opportunities. I hope people, as they look back, will recognize that."
In conversations with Crocker employees from the smallest branch office to the executive suite, the themes that Reichwald struck are sounded with regularity.
To some extent, that is by design. Since the merger announcement in February, the bank has taken pains to help employees work through their reactions, much as grief-stricken relatives are counseled following a death in the family.
The aim was to transform the employees' initial shock and anger into acceptance of the inevitable. In internal publications and transition counseling sessions, the necessity of adapting to change was stressed repeatedly.
Overseeing this effort is San Francisco psychologist Stephen G. White, a specialist in workplace trauma who was retained by Crocker three years ago to counsel bank employees who had been branch holdup victims. He said that while the stress of having one's life threatened by a gunman is more acute than that suffered by having one's job eliminated in a merger, there are similarities.
People Feel Victimized
"This is not the same. But metaphorically, many express the feeling, 'We wuz robbed,' " White said. "People feel victimized. I don't want to be overdramatic or hysterical, but there are analogies."
He said he has identified several characteristics of what he calls "merger stress syndrome," among them a feeling of betrayal, a sense of loss, insecurity about the future and resistance to the "invaders."
Resistance can take several forms. Although no outright cases of sabotage have been reported, a fair amount of company time has been burned up in the last several weeks by going-away parties. One staffer said she disconnected the odometer on a company car and took a 200-mile pleasure trip. Another worker, perhaps suffering a mild case of paranoia, told a reporter he was convinced that his phone was bugged by Wells Fargo because he was a known opponent of the merger.
For the most part, however, Crocker people today accept the deal and are facing the future with equanimity, if not enthusiasm.
"I really don't see us ceasing to exist. The name won't be there, but we'll still be there," said Kathy Dunham, a Los Angeles-area sales manager for Crocker. "I think a lot of us are proud of what we have done. We feel Wells is very fortunate to get us."
Carolyn Castle, a mid-level San Francisco manager, said: "It's the passing and the loss of a friend. But life goes on. Everything that happens happens for a reason."
Anxiety appears to increase with the job level. One senior Crocker executive in San Diego said top-level people are feeling "tremendous nervousness," more so than line staff, because "they have much more invested, and they have much more to lose."
Echoing a concern expressed by many Crocker employees about making the transition to a company known for its crisp, no-nonsense management style, the San Diego executive said: "I wonder whether I have the spunk to go back to a good, sound, let's-make-a-decision-and-get-this-done" way of doing business instead of the heavily bureaucratic Crocker system.
Some Hostility Exists
There is hostility, though, even among those that have been offered jobs at Wells Fargo. One longtime employee in Crocker's capital markets department said the merger has had a profound effect on how he views his career and loyalty to an employer. As a new Wells Fargo employee, he'll be looking out only for himself.