Wells Fargo (WFC) jumped deeper into the crowded pool of managing people's wealth at the very time when most Americans were becoming poorer. It still managed to find riches — and it wants more.

The fourth-largest bank now gets 30% of its fees from selling investment, brokerage and other wealth-management services to customers — more than it gets from any other business, including its massive mortgage operation. It is looking for acquisitions to enlarge the wealth unit, executives said this month. And while that business currently makes only a fraction of the income Wells Fargo gets from its larger consumer and wholesale banking businesses, its steady stream of fees is vital at a time when the bank's overall revenue has dropped.

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