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Wells Fargo’s new CT commercial banking leader Gallo sees growth opportunities in Nutmeg State

Longtime Wells Fargo Connecticut commercial banking market executive Kevin Burke retired earlier this year after a nearly two decade-long run in the position.

Now a new banker with years-long experience in the tri-state area is taking his place.

Lou Gallo was recently named senior vice president and commercial banking market executive for Connecticut. He’s also in charge of the New York Hudson Valley and capital region commercial markets.

Gallo, 57, now oversees three regional offices and more than 19 employees that serve companies in the $10 million to $2 billion annual revenue range.

Gallo joined Wells Fargo in December 2013 as a business banking manager, and became a business banking area manager for the state of New Jersey in 2016. He was then promoted in 2019 to commercial banking market executive covering New York’s Hudson Valley and Bronx region. He began his banking career in 1990 with Chase Manhattan Bank.

Gallo has previous experience working in Connecticut, particularly Fairfield County. He lives in Eastchester, New York — about a 20-minute drive from Greenwich — with his wife Elena. They have two children, Louis Jr. and Sydney.

His main office is in Purchase, New York, right near the Connecticut border.

Gallo takes over the Connecticut market amid interesting economic times. Rising interest rates, supply chain issues and inflation have some experts — including Gallo’s boss — predicting an upcoming recession.

During The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival last month, Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said there was “no question” the country was headed for an economic downturn. But he also noted that consumers and businesses are going into it in a relatively strong position, hopefully making any recession “short and not all that deep.”

Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank operating in Connecticut in terms of deposit market share. As of June 30, 2021, the bank held $9.8 billion in deposits in the state, putting it only behind Bank of America, M&T Bank and Webster Bank.

As of 2020, Wells Fargo held $225 million in loans to over 4,500 small businesses, according to Gallo, who added his goal is to grow that number and his commercial banking team.

Here’s what else he had to say about his new job:

Q. Is this a job you pursued, or were you appointed to it?

A. Absolutely I pursued it. The markets in Hudson Valley and Connecticut are similar in many ways. Once Kevin made the decision that he was going to retire I threw my name in the hat and made sure I was being considered.

Bringing me in and adding the Hudson Valley market to the Connecticut and New York capital region made a lot of sense.

Q. What’s your strategy to get to know the Connecticut market?

A. I plan to be in Connecticut about 2.5 days a week. Between Connecticut and the Hudson Valley, those are the two strongest markets for us and where I see the opportunity.

What I’d like to do is get to know my team, our top clients and get out in the market to get to know who the major players are. That’s what I’ve been focused on over the last three or four weeks.

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED

Lou Gallo was recently named commercial banking market executive for Connecticut.

Q. How do you view the Connecticut market?

A. I love the market. I’m really looking forward to how we can grow it. I look at it in a couple different ways, with the three main cities — Stamford, New Haven and Hartford —and I’d even take the whole Fairfield County, with Greenwich being similar to the Westchester market and the opportunities there.

There are a couple places where we are going to focus. We are going to focus on growing our business with companies in the $10 million to $75 million in revenue space, which is our lower middle market. We see a lot of new businesses coming into that market and we are really going to try and grow it.

We are seeing opportunities on the tech side and the service industry side across the board, and we see there are opportunities for us to add some staff to grow that business.

The other area where I see opportunity is investment real estate, where we are seeing tremendous growth.

We are seeing [investors] that own real estate in [New York] doing stuff within Connecticut. One of the things that Wells does well is we have a national footprint and we are able to follow our borrowers outside of Connecticut.

Those are two areas we are really going to focus on in addition to our core middle market banking. I also see a lot of opportunity on the industrial and commercial services side.

Q. How many commercial bankers do you have in Connecticut?

A. Today we have seven bankers covering the state on the commercial banking side. Those bankers range from traditional commercial banking relationship managers to business development officers who are sourcing deals and bringing them back to the team.

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