Wells Fargo partners with the Operation HOPE for HOPE Inside program to help low-income residents build their savings

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Wells Fargo has taken a step forward in helping low-income residents build their savings. The announcement is cautiously applauded by some of the bank’s harshest critics.

The San Francisco-based bank announced a partnership with a nonprofit organization to place a financial advisor in some of its branches. The move follows a scandal that nearly knocked off the wheels of the bank’s iconic stagecoach.

A financial adviser from the national association Operation HOPE will be placed in select Wells Fargo locations in 20 cities nationwide.

The HOPE Inside program will first be unveiled in Oakland, Atlanta and Houston.

In the East Bay, the Money Coach will be headquartered at the Main Branch on Franklin Street.

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Darlene Goins of Wells Fargo says that person’s salary will be funded by a grant from the bank.

“They’ll help them budget, set aside savings for emergency or longer-term savings. They’ll help them improve their credit,” Goins said.

The program will target those who currently do not have a savings account and could rely on payday lenders and check cashing services that charge triple-digit interest rates for short-term loans from payday lenders.

Kevin Stein of the California Reinvestment Coalition gives a thumbs up.

“It’s a positive thing for Wells Fargo to partner with an organization like this that’s in the community and trying to help families,” Stein said.

However, he points out that only six years ago, federal regulators discovered that Wells Fargo had created fraudulent savings and checking accounts for people without their knowledge, often ruining their credit.

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He accuses the bank of denying loans to African Americans at a disproportionate rate and hitting customers with $1.4 billion in overdraft fees.

“We did things like eliminate overdraft transfer fees. We also eliminated insufficient funds fees,” Goins said.

“They still charge $35 overdraft and allow overdrafts up to three times a day,” Stein said.

But Goins says the bank has a 10-year commitment to reach underserved communities.

“We have partnered with other organizations such as Operation Hope to help people financially achieve their dreams,” she said.

Operation Hope will not wait for people to come to them. He will travel to the community to seek out the unbanked and help them become banked.

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