Stessa Cohen and Kristin Moyer here. Wells Fargo announced that it is launching an online loan-consolidation repayment program in combination with a savings tool: the Wells Fargo Debt Pay Down Solution. This solution will let customers consolidate debt through a person loan. It includes “My Spending Report,” a tool that will let customers see their deposits, spending by category and “what’s left” (deposits minus spending). Customers that make automatic payments from a Wells Fargo checking account will get a .25% rate discount. Wells Fargo is also opening a “Smarter Credit” online education center.
Two things are notable about this:
- Now a good 16-18 months into the market collapse, a bank is finally providing solutions to help customers manage through the financial crisis.
- Perhaps even more importantly: at last, a bank looking at the customer from their point of view: “all my debt, rather than the bank’s siloed view of my debt, my personal financial position.”
Wells Fargo has been a leader in online banking, using social media (blogs, StageCoach Island Community) as well. Let’s hope Wells’ tools also give customers a way to notify the bank of problems with repayment and to automate their ability to adjust their bill payments due to financial problems.
Emerging vendors Gartner has been writing about (SmartyPig, Mint, Worklight) provide similar tools. Customer points of view will prove to be increasingly important in bank ability to take a customer point of view and focus, especially in the online banking channel.
What about the branch? It’s a great resource that might be overlooked in the online tools:
- Offer one-on-one assistance in educating consumers
- Offer “classes” or workshops targeted to specific groups or problems – for example:
- “Repaying school loans when you can’t get a job after graduation”
- “How to really pay off credit card debt”
- “How to get a small business loan in a credit crunch”
The big question is: are banks going to simply copy Wells to stay in the game, or will they find out what *their* customers want and need?