In addition to my bevvy of online savings accounts, I have standard, twentieth-century brick-and-mortar banking accounts, though only at two banks. I opened an account at TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank) several years ago — because everyone loves being able to visit the branch on a Sunday. My primary branch accounts for personal and business are still at Wachovia, despite minor frustrations throughout the years.
My accounts at Wachovia resulted from a long line of mergers and acquisitions for almost two decades. Now, I’m in the process of yet another transition. Wachovia was purchased by Wells Fargo, interrupting a process in which Citigroup and the FDIC were on the cusp of taking over the institution. The bottom line is I will be a Wells Fargo customer as of next month. Wells Fargo — a name traditionally associated with Westward Expansion — recently sent a communication to customers in New Jersey, the state where I live, to guide us through the transition. I received two packages on the same day — one for my personal accounts and one for my business accounts.
The cover letters were almost identical; interestingly the personal account letter contained, “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause,” regarding online downtime, but the business account lettered offered no such apology. The letter was followed by a description of my current accounts and how the terms and fees will change after the conversion on February 5.
There was more. Two packets were included in each mailing. The first was a thirty-one page guide to the transition with more details about the transition and marketing materials for the bank’s products, and the second was a sixty-page disclosure statement.
With the new Wells Fargo-branded accounts, I’ll be treated to legacy terms. My accounts that are currently free will remain free and those that require a minimum balance will require the same minimum balance. The accounts that I have will not be available to new Wells Fargo customers, though. If I want to expand my banking at Wells Fargo, I might not have many free options.
While I had a nice introductory interest rate on my business money market account for the first year, I now have a good portion of money at this bank earning next to nothing. It could be earning more at a high-yield savings account. Until all the clients that pay my business offer direct deposit, I’ll stick with a local branch for at minimum business banking.