Wells Fargo’s SVP and regional manager of California Community Development, Brenda Wright, has an important message for the black community. Her experience in banking has shown her what it takes to turn the tides of a bad economy. She and her team have done it in California’s Bay Area. Despite the gloomy economic forecasts, she’s convinced that now is the time to build wealth.
“I think it’s a great time for those who are prepared,” she said. “People who are prepared credit-wise, those people who have saved and kept their debt down, they’re now able to take advantage of the downturn.”
The economic upheaval has, according to Wright, created a window of opportunity for the prepared.
“With every recession there’s been an upside for some group of people who are prepared,” she reminded, referring to property values and interest rates being at extreme lows.
Whereas home values were inflated before, she said, they have now reached levels that will make it significantly profitable for credit-worthy individuals looking to invest and build lasting wealth. And at the very least, she recommends abandoning renting if you can purchase, exploring building small business ownership and not throwing away cash on depreciable assets such as new cars.
“People are renting, but if you have your credit in place, you shouldn’t be paying $1500 a month in rent, that’s crazy. Don’t pay $1,000 a month for a car, because it’s a wasted asset. Their are huge opportunities,” she said. “We all contributed, thinking we could take money out of our houses, you take 20K here and go buy a car, it’s something our parents would never have done. Furthermore, most of the wealth that people get comes from them being small business owners … it’s all tied together.”
Wright’s advice lends to the fact that the cornerstone of a thriving community is having financially literate and fit households. But with many having used the twisted logic that Wright warned against, many are shut out due to the fallout of such choices: no wealth and bad credit.
But there’s hope, and Wells Fargo wants to be part of the solution.
“People need to take some responsibility,” she admonished. “They need to ask the question, ‘what’s my role? Maybe I didn’t have to spend so much of my credit.’ We need to take accountability for it … and if you need help, we have programs. Go online to handsonbanking.org, there’s a section for small business. Also, [at] wellsfargo.com, there’s a small business section with so many resources. We’ve invested millions … we won’t be successful if you’re not successful. You’ve never seen a thriving bank in a failing neighborhood. So, we’re in this together and we have to teach.”
The work Wright and her team are doing to build communities in California’s Bay Area area through various programs and classes is just a microcosm of what Wells Fargo is doing across the nation. While economic prognosticators are reporting continued gloom and doom, Wells Fargo seems to be moving in the other direction:
“We’re very optimistic. Our [small business] lending is up … 30 percent. People have been reading the negativity in the media and thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t get a loan because it’s too bad …’ but go ask. We’re in the business of taking deposits and making loans. If we don’t make loans, we can’t pay the interest on those deposits,” Wright says. “There are huge opportunities. Don’t sit idly by and let this pass.”