Also, apparently Wells Fargo thinks that 27,000 people lost their cars over this. I bet none of those people will be made whole. Cars are really essential things: lose your car and you may be unable to take a child to school, unable to shop for food, or even unable to get to work. It's a pity that can't be undone.
The scams in themselves were not profitable. For the cross-selling, they made an extra 100 million or so over the course of many years, I don't recall the figures I read.
Wells didn’t get in trouble during the financial crisis because they stuck to conventional banking instead of investment banking, like their peers. Their reputation was unmatched.
Since the crisis WFC has floated low double digits percentage wise around their market cap, while all its peers have doubled and tripled in market cap. Wells holders have missed the boat they waited ten years for, and probably will live in purgatory for another 4 or 5 years because of this mess.
At this level of fine? Probably not. $1,000,000,000 is a substantial amount of cash but that would only be ~$37,000 a person if 100% of the fine went to the only the victims who lost their vehicles. Certainly enough to replace a lost car but far from adequate to cover damages from the effects of losing a vehicle and living with that repossession on your credit history.
And that doesn't even account for that 27,000 was only the number that suffered repossessions, not the number victimized by Wells Fargo.
Steal a candy bar? Go to jail. Knowingly ruin someone's life? No problem. The shareholders pay for it.
They will however pass brutal laws sentencing poor people to 35 years to life for possession, an other disgusting shit like that, but that's another story.
Look at 2007 / 2008. Wall Street nearly crash the world economy to the ground. Ecnomists estimated it cause deaths into the thousands. (30k or 300k come to mind but I can't find the reference atm.) The Obama admin for all intents and purposes pardoned Wall Street. Yet Obama is hailed as a liberal, a hero, and one of our greatest ever.
I have to believe Orwell is bewildered.
"Knowing that some people are responsible for _knowingly_ enriching themselves off of messing with the global economy leading to the global economic crisis of 2009 and, for example, hundreds of thousands to millions of excess deaths, would you support: (A) jail time and criminal accountability for all involved; or (B) a $700,000,000,000 bailout for, among other things, their next yacht fund?
If the majority answer is (A) then there's your evidence we live in a plutocracy.
- The Elites. In current parlance The 1%.
- Their enablers. They're the next 14%. We really don't have an acknowledgement of the existence of this group. Examples would be politicians, the majoriry of the media, etc.
- Everyone else. In 1984 this was The Proles.
The 1% v 99% lens is __all wrong__. Any discussion via that lens is all but pointless. It puts the 14% on the wrong side of the line.
To be elite is something to aspire to, to admire. To be truly elite includes concepts like benevolence, compassion, a larger awareness, and a long-term perspective. Being rich and/or educated alone isn't enough to be elite. Having power is definitely not part of being elite. A malevolent dictator is not an elite, they are just a powerful jerk.
This may be yelling to hold back the tide, but I think it's a bad idea to connect concepts of "good" with concepts of "asshole"
"In political and sociological theory, the elite (French élite, from Latin eligere) are a small group of powerful people who hold a disproportionate amount of wealth, privilege, political power, or skill in a society."
In most countries jails are no good to prisoners. They are used to isolate people from society, not to help people to become a better person. And society is putting tones of money to support penitentiary system.
I believe for economical crimes people who took the decision should be fined a lot and banned from taking positions where they can do the same things again. No need to isolate them from society. At least for the first time. The same for other crimes where people do not hurt or threaten to hurt other people.
Isn't that the thing though? Don't these bankers actually hurt more people, and hurt them worse, than any violent criminal could? So the person who hurts one family gets jail but the one that hurts thousands "doesn't get to work in the industry" anymore? That sounds like hogwash to me.
Has everyone just forgotten about the principle of equality under the law?
The Lucas critique, or Campbell's law, both refer to the same concept. Any metric that becomes a target is no longer a sufficient metric.
The Constitution has been our metric for 250 years. I don't have a superior alternative, but it occurs to me that we've demanded it be a literal document, but when its our own skin on the line, we suddenly forget the inconvenient parts, and contort our minds to find absolution for something we are going to do anyways.
Banning people from an activity is also hard. They can just take a position where they advise others who will make such decisions, or other loopholes.
Jail time may not be the answer, and we clearly do a bad job of making these acts a financial risk (not to mention preventing recurrence), so your suggestion is undoubtedly an improvement over current day, but I don't think we can stop there. (Not that I have better ideas yet)
Not that I agree with the idea, but it seems to work in practice.
Fines dissuade from making exactly the same thing but that doesn't seem to prevent different kinds of scam.
Nothing pitchforks, molotovs, and sturdy rope wouldn't solve, but I guess we're just too comfortable to do anything but passively let them f*ck us in the butt.
Dissuade means something more like "reduce the chances of it happening".
If the OP had written "fines do not completely prevent forever the chances of a bad thing happening" everyone would have realised that was a nonsensical bar because even putting in jail doesn't do that.
Dissuade means something more like "reduce the chances of it happening".
When a bank cheats its customers, they should be prohibited from providing those services for several years. Shut down their mortgage division and force them to sell it off. That is the only real penalty that has teeth.
If you can simply fine it hard enough to make them stop cheating like that in future, that should be more than enough. Simple fines to make cheats unprofitable should do the thing.
Also the rule "to shutdown" the entire division might be misused on the wrong way or to blackmail the business. Once you shut down the division, it's much harder to reverse it, than simply to return a fine.
The larger issue is it's a minimal impact on the company and the people who actually commit ed the crimes.
I don't think this is about making them whole, it's just about fining them. I could be wrong, but I believe those victimized are still welcome to conduct a civil action against Wells Fargo.
I still don't fill my gas tank at BP stations...
There's an app called Getaround (https://www.getaround.com/) which works really well for this, if you live in a big city.
These huge banks have simply become way too big, and it serves no one's interest but their own. They have zero incentive to provide actual customer service anymore. There needs to be a massive restructuring of our system to allow smaller banks to thrive and provide actual competition.
Most consumer products and customer services should be totally accessible through a web interface. All of this could be built on top of today's banking infrastructure as a mostly-frontend service but instead I'm forced to give my personal information to services like Mint (who can not and will not ever do what I actually need it to do) or trust Random Startup #347 with access to my bank account because banks are monoliths without technical capacity or consumer-oriented business practices. I imagine some upstart will eventually come along with a better solution but banking regulation (though absolutely necessary in many ways) will hinder growth of any challenger.
If anyone has any recommendations in the meantime, please let me know!
I like your concept of the multiple credit/card style budgeting. That makes a lot of sense. There are even some of those multicards out there with an e-ink display to select different cards. A bank could just issue one of those for a fee where you can select the account (and have a way to transfer money/items around if you select the wrong budget option).
Discover card has a section in your UI that tries to automatically break down your spending by store type (grocery, gas, etc.) but it does require you make all purchases with your Discover card, which a lot of people simply don't take.
So, I'm giving it to you now. This is just smart and logical. You do not need technical proficiency to reason out the risks, or the daily "12yo exploits MOST-SECURIST-EVER IOT device in 20 minutes" articles.
With that said, without public support, and government laws, this is a losing battle.
Equifax had no authorization from you to collect and distribute your financial data, but they did it anyway, and your financial services sent them the information. And of course, not surprised, their criminal negligence, revealed EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT to hackers. Let's be real, when the news for stupids spins the story in this manner:
Equifax data breach: The number of victims may be impossible to know
It means that the number was so great as to be unspinnable, so they went with another narrative, "Nobody knows" like dark matter, it's impossible, our scientists are trying but it's impossible....lol
Just assume all of them. Every last customer. Probably closest to the truth.
All merchants that accept credit cards are placed in a category by the card companies, and every credit or debit card purchase therefore gets this category attached to it. Some places surfaces this information to you, in various ways. I have Chase, and they have a pretty shitty UI for this, but there's something there at least.
So it's not unique to Discover, and it's not them "guessing" or trying, it's based on fixed merchant categories.
Citibank includes this code in the "SID" element in OFX generated by their "OFX Direct" service (i.e. https://www.accountonline.com/cards/svc/CitiOfxManager.do). I haven't seen it in the OFX from any other financial institution though. The codes are cataloged here: https://github.com/greggles/mcc-codes
(though I'll admit the sibling's comment about satire is probably right)
Moving physical addresses was a total shitshow. It involved them snail-mailing two verification codes. One to the current address and one to the new address. And you had to be able to collect them both and get them entered within a certain time frame. (Really inconvenient when moving from Texas to NYC).
And then got a new banking partner and had to basically re-enroll everyone again with a time component. There was a web form that crashed immediately when I entered my information because they couldn't verify my address. I filed a ticket immediately, which they didn't follow up on. When I followed up on it, they said it was a known issue and they were working on it. No worries, I'll get an extension.
Eventually after me calling several times to ask about it, they just said that there were issues with some of their oldest accounts that just couldn't be resolved. So I could Re-enroll from scratch on their website. Which I did. And immediately got flagged as fraud because I already existed as a customer.
Eventually, they told me I would just have to find a different bank, and they were closing my account in 7 days, and they were going to keep any money left in the account at that point.
I was pretty livid.
And the goal system was theoretically really cool. I liked it a lot. But it never really worked correctly because the goal tag wouldn't stick from the Auth to the Settlement. So anything you had flagged when you made a purchase you had to re-flag when the purchase was no longer pending. It was a great idea but somehow they never figured out quite how to relate the Auths to the Settlements in their user database. Which is pretty scary.
Anyway, long story short, up until a couple years ago, I would've completely agreed about Simple being a good option. But I can't warn people away fast enough after all of the garbage I've had with them.
Surprisingly I grinned and bared it until I decided the world wasn't ready for life without checks, unfortunately.
Your world. The US. There are plenty of countries where checks were phased out many decades ago. :-)
They just created a new goals system that "locks" off your money more than original goals. It seems like a good system, I need more experience to really say.
I still love Simple. But they made it readily apparent that I need to have funds in multiple banks to stay financially safe.
Is that even legal? If so it sounds like an extraordinary loophole.
Also if I come into a decent size amount of a cash payment, I can't walk into a bank to deposit it. Mailing in straight up cash seems super weird to me.
$1.95 per $1000 is pretty reasonable as far as fees go. If you want to deposit cash, you just get a money order for the amount, make it out to yourself, and use their photo check deposit. Funds available next business day.
If you need to pay someone, you buy a PMO with your debit card.
It's kind of an annoying requirement, but it beats the hell out of dealing with the banks in my area.
Just let them mail it... Simple!
Heck not even real "Accounts" (in the traditional banking sense) but just "funds" or "virtual accounts." I should be able to put $5/month into a "waste of money" fund, and then flag specific transactions against that balance when I use it, or as you said have a virtual credit card that goes straight out of my virtual "waste of money" fund.
It really is surprising how little innovation occurs in the banking space. I want more tools to track expenditures and money usage, silo-ing money virtually is an obvious way to do that, but yet nobody really offers it!
When I was a student, in 2001, Poland, I had such functionality - I had separate sub-accounts, each one of them with a dedicated IBAN number, receiving funds.
My monthly allowance from the parents went to one account, my payments from clients (freelance programming) went to another one. From that I distributed the money into another account for holiday savings, and to a spending account with a dedicated and free wire transfer of $5/day for daily spending - the only one I attached a debit card to.
Once I got a browser in my phone, I think around 2004, in case of emergency (as in "standing in line at the store, and discovered I'm $2 short"), I could transfer the money between various accounts instantly.
Another cool thing was that since my father had an account in the same bank, I received all the wire transfers from him instantly. As in, I call him, ask him for extra $100 for something, he says "hold on", opens up bank account on his browser, sends the money, and I instantly get a text message that the funds are received, and I can politely say "thanks dad, I got it" before disconnecting :)
Using past tense, because that was all in 2001-2004. 16-18 years ago. Right now I think all the major banks offer that, so nobody considers it a big deal any more. Oh, and now we have instant inter-bank transfers, but they cost "a lot" - like a flat fee €1, so people usually send the regular free ones, which take <1 work day to get delivered (<3h if you send them between 7am and 5pm) - regardless of which bank you are using.
I use a python script to download most transactions from banks/credit cards. https://sites.google.com/site/pocketsense/home/msmoneyfixp1/...
There are enough people who do this that you can figure out how to access the OFX endpoint for most financial institutions.
One problem I have with relying on OFX is that I have a nagging suspicion that it's not as 'official' as the statements. If there were a discrepancy between the two, I'd worry that I wouldn't be able to resolve it in my favor without having reviewed (and thus downloaded and reconciled against) the statements.
I really think the state of how bad consumer bank integration tech is has led to this reality of login and scrape that you have with yodlee & co.
Otherwise, it requires only an email (and that you pay them 5$/monthly somehow. Paypal, credit card, whatever).
If you don't want auto-import (which doesn't even work for my credit union anyway), you can uploads .csvs, or manually input your transactions.
LWN have a current "Grumpy Editor" series article on Beancount:
And an older one from 2009:
The correct answer is to close your account and move to a bank that actually has an interest in providing customer service. (Credit unions are great.)
I have zero interest in some company's CRM, how they apportion money to employees, or anything else of that sort. If a company cannot get meaningful feedback about customers' reaction to their service, well, that sounds like they have a serious business problem to solve, and expecting me to fix it for free is, frankly, insulting and doomed to failure.
My rule in life with this sort of thing is simple. Don't do business with assholes.
 Get back to me when WF's CEO's bonus depends on customers going out of their way to provide feedback.
As a consumer, I like my financial services to come in one of two flavors: Completely automated and self-service, or very personal.
Because I want to either never have to pick up the phone, or I want to know that, when I pick up the phone, ring straight through to a knowledgeable and empowered professional, instead of waiting on hold for 30m before getting some call center drone.
Any company where keeping a handle on customer service involves a signal having to filter through a CRM system and multiple layers of whatever-else-is-going-on-in-there is in neither of those camps: They aren't sufficiently automated and streamlined to give the hands-off experience, but they are also too bureaucratic to allow their customer-facing staff to offer a good hands-on experience.
And I just ain't got time for wallowing in some Goodhart's Law quagmire like that.
If I as a dev for a large company see people online complaining about my product, I'd _probably_ tell them, in good faith, that if I had no direct touch to help, what channels they MIGHT be able to touch to have an impact, even if it's only post-factum.
What would you rather the business do? Have 0 receptivity to any channel of communication? Yeah, ticketing and support often sucks. But I see no reason to bite the hand that's trying to help you, both when they're going out of their way to try and give information that might move the needle, and when I'm hard pressed to give any more actionable advice. (at least for parallels within my space.)
I certainly would have liked to know I had _any_ recompense after BoA left me high and dry on some last minute mortgage detail and my agent went AWOL right before signing, even if it wasn't going to necessarily help my situation.
I've had a number of devs, when receiving feedback, tell me that I should instead seek out their bug tracker, register with their feedback system, open a support ticket, give detailed instructions about how to identify and fix my problem, and then wait for a decision about how I'm wrong.
I've done that maybe twice.
IMO, the current best banking experience is Schwab. Hopefully they don’t make dumb changes and screw it up.
I’m tired of businesses trying to get me to do their jobs for them.
I use Monzo which, a few month ago added support for 'Pots' - super lightweight mini bank accounts that let you partition up your money. Among others, I have a Holiday pot and a Savings pot. They even have this early stage feature where if you name a pot "Coin Jar" they'll automatically round up transactions to the nearest £ and transfer it to that pot.
Using something like Monzo is like night and day compared to the products from the big banks.
Also, many people use it without auto-import, but then you obviously have to be rigorous about entering in transactions. Anyway, it's an option.
It also doesn't hurt that they have good interest rates, no foreign expense costs, and don't charge for things like debit cards, checks, autodraft, bill pay, etc.
I do think they are USA only though. Not sure how it works for non US citizens.
Or simply for death. Not my idea, I first thought it was a joke when they told me, but it makes perfect sense. I get exactly zero interest for my savings, not even to compensate inflation. It's stock options or bs funds.
Only useful service I get is cards and avoiding keeping cash in a physical safe. Credit comes from cards or specialized loan companies.
There are two services that do matter: mortgages and credit lines for companies. I can see how this kind of volume operations could be also be done by specialized companies so generalistic banks could disappear.
A few years ago a friend of mine bought a house and actually turned down a house who's sellers had a bank of America mortgage as he had bad experiences in the past. He went out of his way to choose not to deal with them, but to his suprise 30 days after he closed he got a letter in the mail telling him that his mortgage was sold to Bank of America!
And not suprisingly he had the same issues.
Is it actually possible to find someone who won't? Or is it just a false sense of choice like the ability to "choose an ISP that says they won't sell your information"?
As a buyer, why would I even care who the seller has their mortgage with? Why would that matter?
Where I'm from, the real estate agent deals with that shit. When you close the deal, the agent calls up the new bank or faxes them or whatever so that they open a mortgage for X amount for the piece of property for the buyer, and directs them to send Y to the old bank so that they close out the previous mortgage, and Z to the agent's account, who then takes their cut, and forwards the remainder to the seller.
Is this not how it works in the US?
Real estate agents have to be licensed, and part of their duties is of course to verify that the seller is who they say they are and that they own the thing they're trying to sell. When I sold an apartment, I had to show my ID to my agent so he could verify me.
The registry of who owns what pieces of land is managed by a government office, and government data is by legal default public, so checking if a seller actually owns a piece of land is trivial. You don't need to chase down a distributed sealed deed history thing thing, it's basically a single national database at this point.
So it's really simple to do, and the responsibility is on the seller's agent, who in turn has a strong incentive to not screw up, or they lose their license and their job.
When you go to your lender for a pre-approval on a mortgage, they want to know which piece of property you're buying, and they typically check that it's being sold by a licensed real estate agent, because if it is, then they can be assured that the seller is verified and actually can sell the property.
When you sign the purchase contract - which is typically one or two pages long - you sign one copy for the seller, one for the buyer, one for the agent, and one for the government office, and the agent helps you fill out the (short) form that goes with it so you can send it in and get the ownership legally transferred to you. That's it.
There's so little work involved with verifying ownership and transferring ownership, that it's just put on the shoulders of the real estate agents. The idea that you would need yet another party to handle this aspect is completely ludicrous in Sweden, it makes no sense.
So why was Klathmon's friend bothered by it?
Sadly, this is not how banks become rich. Banks become rich by letting their customers spend a lot of money they don't have, then charging them insane interest rates that will often result in them paying back multiple times what they originally owed.
Having moved to the US from a country where the idea of a credit card is close to inexistent (people take loans to buy a car or a house, or start a business - but certainly not to buy a TV), it took me a while to fully wrap my head around how insane the credit system was in the US, and how its only outcome can be very rich and powerful financial institutions leeching money from average citizens.
My friend is a recent employee of Capital One via the Paribus acquisition, and he has quoted his CTO as saying "We're not a bank, we're a technology company."
I don't bank with them so I can't comment on their offerings, but his insider perspective indicates that they're taking technology seriously (hence acquisitions like Paribus).
> I should be able to partition my money into several lightweight accounts - one for groceries, one for home expenses, investment, etc
You can open multiple checking accounts at most banks. I've made partitioned checking accounts like this before.
> automatically have fractions of my deposits sent to those accounts so my budgeting and money management are handled without any effort on my part.
Money transfers can be scheduled but they're usually by set amounts instead of fractions (e.g. add $100 on the first of the month). I use this myself.
> I should have lightweight cards available for each of those accounts with online card management (request/terminate cards, track per-card spending)
Should be able to open debit cards for each account but you'll probably need to be in person to request/terminate them. Maybe you could do it over the phone by authenticating yourself, not sure. I haven't heard of per-card tracking but at least you know what you spent on your card.
> multiple cards per account so I can give my wife full use of "grocery" card
You can tie multiple debit cards to the same account for a husband and wife. Try explaining what you're doing and a banker should set that up for you.
> alerts/notifications when I am spending too much in an account/not efficiently allocating the full amount/potentially using a card improperly
There are account alerts that can be set up for exactly this. I have it shoot me an email with the alert message when something gets triggered.
> financial projections
Account history can be downloaded in common formats like csv. There are already tools you could use to create the projection and do fancy data visualization things for yourself. You could scrape your account data periodically using your online banking credentials. Might be dangerous to automate though.
This part probably can reasonably be handled with a spreadsheet at home, so if you can't find a bank that supports it you can still get the benefits. Plus, that handles money that is not at your bank, too. For instance, many people prefer to use specialized firms for investments rather than their bank. For example, an index fund from Vanguard probably has lower fees than a fund using the same index from a bank.
> I should have lightweight cards available for each of those accounts with online card management (request/terminate cards, track per-card spending); multiple cards per account so I can give my wife full use of "grocery" card, and alerts/notifications when I am spending too much in an account/not efficiently allocating the full amount/potentially using a card improperly; financial projections; and so on.
I can't think of a good way to handle this at home without bank support, at least automatically. You might be able to do something using prepaid reloadable debit cards. E.g., you give your wife a prepaid reloadable debit card specifically for groceries, and you handle loading it from the grocery virtual account.
Edit: I just looked, and they indeed state that they may have close your account if you are traveling for "a very long time" or moving out of the country... odd, I wonder what their definition of "a very long time" is?
You can open multiple checking accounts (and we have multiples for those services that don’t draft from savings accounts), but we only have one debit card. All weekly expenses come from that account (which is funded every week by auto transfers).
We aren’t the type that care about “entertainment” vs “food.” Some weeks we eat out more; other weeks we play. If there’s cash in the spend account, buy what you want.
Savings and investments are automatically transferred as well. When we have a specific thing to save for, we open a new savings account and modify the transfer rules.
Not perfect, but works very well for us.
Then you can get a debit card for each of account and you can set your paycheck to deposited into each account with your company's payroll. Automatic transfers would work too. I do some budgeting per checking account, the joint account is for household bills. Savings is automatically deposited into my investments account too - did that with payroll.
Problem is some banks want fees per account or want you to jump through hoops to get the fees waived, but it's possible to get a no fee per account bank.
Youd be MUCH better off doing this with separate credit cards rather than separate bank accounts though for many reasons. Credit cards are big on account alerts - not sure if bank accounts really do account alerts, haven't looked into it. Just get a "grocery" credit card and a "fun" credit card, "bills" credit card etc. I, personally, have seventeen (17) credit cards.
I have a few other checking accounts with different banks, most of which are opened only temporarily, I churn bank account bonuses.
Unfortunately, getting data from bank accounts is a pain due to bank security. The approach I was going to use just to get started was to export Mint's data as a csv, and then build an app around that until I read up on the bank transaction formats that would let you pull your transaction history. Not ideal, though.
Edit: plaid is a nice abstraction bank api: https://plaid.com/
Once you want to add more than 100 accounts, we recommend reaching out to learn more about pricing at scale; it depends on what APIs are being used, how much data is being pulled, how often, etc. Feel free to shoot me an email directly if you have any questions! (email@example.com)
I'm glad to hear that's not the case anymore.
Very opaque and very expensive ($500 / mo+)
Also, they will shut down your account if you don't use your free edition enough.
We'll occasionally flag accounts that have dormant API activity in our development tier, but as long as you're still using the API we're happy to cover the cost of the free account.
For sub-accounts, Capital One 360 is the easiest in terms of creating and removing accounts for specific purposes.
Most credit unions have this ability as well. I have accounts in two, and they use the same software platform that makes it easy to partition money in the way you describe. The only difference is that opening and closing sub accounts has only recently been available from the web interface.
Basically, there is no good reason to ever use a commercial bank, unless you have millions of dollars sitting around or handle a lot of cash and the convenience of a BoA or Wells Fargo has value to you for that purpose. Commercial banks will always be more expensive and less responsive.
My bank starling almost has this feature. It allows you to create "pots" which partition the money. However it is slightly more limited in that you only have one card and can only spend money that is not in a pot. You can however move money between pots instantly using the app (as well as many other useful features such as viewing/changing your PIN, and temporarily blocking/unblocking the card (useful if you lose it, but think you might find it again))
https://ynab.com/referral/?ref=RhsyymvEwUvLaJTk (If you sign up with this link then we both get a free month.)
I agree it's a sector ripe for rebirth - it's an interesting time to be alive - we're living through a revolution comparable in scope to the industrial revolution, and industries like banking, which are primarily about storing and moving information, will be radically altered. Banking is one of the last to be touched.
I do this today with my regular bank account that's with a big bank. I can open subaccounts, get cards for them (or student cards for young family members), have automatic transfers setup for the day after my check deposits, etc. All accounts are listed on my account summary page.
This works fine for me. As a bonus, there aren't any extra fees for the privilege of giving my bank credentials to a third party.
We need a complete overhaul of our society, starting with the banks.
What I would personally like is an extension to the EFTPOS standard so that I can get receipts with my transaction history. It would be great if instead of just saying I spend $50 at the supermarket, it gave me itemised receipts which I could then export.
This is available in the United States, too. I've had the option with a couple of different employers over the years, at least back into the 90's. But it seems to be dependent on the the company's accounting/payroll people/service.
I have multiple "full" accounts, but there's no maintenence fees or anything. Their online tools are great. You can open a new checking account with the click of a button.
Although there are a handful of branches where I live, I never physically go there. I handle all check deposits via their mobile app. I never receive cash for anything though. You are correct, it would probably be a bad choice for someone dealing with a lot of cash.
And as a sibling comment said, no ATM fees anywhere in the world, ever.
I'm eagerly looking forward to Silicon Valley disrupters getting into banking and, somehow, making it even worse.
I had an account with exactly this functionality ~18 years ago (sic!) in Poland already. All three bank accounts I have in Poland right now offer that - and I think it's the standard in the mainstream ones.
I was about 20. Needed to get something notarized, someone mentioned that banks could do it. I googled and confirmed WF could do it for their customers so I went over to my nearest branch.
Asked the front desk if I could get something notarized. They said sure and referred me to a banker at a desk. I walked over and sat down and told him I was looking to get something notarized.
He said sure, but first can I ask if you've considered upgrading your bank account? I said I didn't think I was interested, but he decided it was worth a few minutes of my time to pull out a pamphlet and talk me through the benefits. I thought I was through it. But then he started asking me if I had considered opening an investment account. I told him that with my current earnings and burn rate it didn't make much sense. But he decided to walk me through the benefits. Then I thought surely, he must be ready to help me notarize my document. Nope. He wants to talk about - I don't remember - small business loans, life insurance? Something that made no sense to offer a 20 year old. Sat through that presentation. I'll make an aside - I was much less experienced with deflecting sales pitches at that age, today I'd have stopped it all much sooner.
But I digress. After 10-20 minutes of pitches for products I never expressed interest in, he finally gave up and asked me what I needed notarized. I honestly don't remember what it was, but he turned around and instantly told me that they weren't able to do that type of notarization. Despite wasting so much of my time, they didn't even have the courtesy to make sure they'd be able to help me out afterwards before launching into their pitch.
A few months later walked by a branch and on a whim decided it was a good time to close my account. Walked in, ask to close it, they said I had to wait, I said oh OK that's alright I'll just withdraw all of it. Good riddance.
Careful, if it's not actually closed they'll hit you with fees.
"This account is dormant. Call us at 1-800-869-3557 to reactivate or close your account."
How convenient that there's absolutely no information about the consequences of a dormant account.
All banks, even the local ones, use something called Chex Systems, which works somewhat like Equifax for bank accounts. If you leave an account open with a $0 balance, and something hits it, and causes an overdraft, and accumulates fees, and then they close it later on for you with a negative balance for hundreds of dollars, then this gets reported to Chex and the next time you try to open an account with any other bank, they say, "Nope, we have a record here for you for account abuse."
These records stick around for about 7 years -- longer than many items on a credit report.
Two dimes and three pennies. It cost them more than that in angry phone calls and reporting it in the first place.
So, I mean, there are some good things to those pitches I guess. Wells Fargo is impressively awful.
Any of the banks that are actually offering decent interest rates on deposits are online banks, because it enables them to centralize and automate all of their operations in one place.
Credit Unions are similar. They usually serve a smaller community, which means they're centralized and have less overhead. They are also beholden to different less-strict laws.
I've heard this first-hand from the founder/CEO of a small local bank. Every time they write a loan they are forced to provide the customer with a 200-page "book" of all the compliance and regulation surrounding that loan. The client immediately throws it in the trash, every time. It hurts the bank, because they have to print that, audit it, have lawyers look it over, maintain it. It also hurts the client; these laws are meant to inform consumers, but in reality they irresponsibly only require banks to throw incomprehensible amounts of information at consumers. Like website Terms of Service, consumers never read it, they just trust what the bank teller tells them.
This must vary by state; I recently took out a small loan from my local bank in Pennsylvania and the information I went home with came out to about 15 pages.
>When you're dealing with huge amounts of yellow tape and you have millions of customers
I thought the conventional wisdom was that onerous regulation actually favored huge businesses with "millions of customers" -- for example, the effort of having to "print that, audit it, have lawyers look it over, maintain it" is a fixed cost so the cost per customer is smaller for larger banks.
That is an advantage for big banks.
Insane setup/maintenance costs and low marginal costs disadvantages small banks or startups.
"“Having a bank, it’s a sign of economic vitality,” he says. And it’s not just North Carolina. He notes the country has about 40 percent fewer banks today than when the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, passed in response to the recession and implementing the most significant changes to financial regulations since the Great Depression, was signed in 2010.
Proponents of the measure said it would reduce the risk of another financial crisis by decreasing the concentration of resources in a handful of banks. Gwaltney says it’s done “the exact opposite.”
“The five or 10 largest banks in the country are larger than they were at the passage of Dodd-Frank,” he says."
Then you can look at the CDO crisis less than ten years later and talk about correlation not being causation until you're blue in the face.
Here's another prediction: the destruction of the CFSB will lead to anti-consumer behavior at large banks.
It doesn't help that the people who are best able to write the regulations are those who are in the industry: they also have incentive to get it wrong. Either you have people who don't understand the industry writing the regulations despite not being competent to do so, and thus not realizing at all what the loopholes are; or you get those who are inside to close the bad loop holes (the ones they know will be abused and they will get in trouble for) while opening up smaller loopholes that benefit slightly them at the expense of someone else not writing the regulations. Either way you lose, though insiders is slightly better. This is also why you see a "revolving door" between industry and regulators: that is the only way regulators can get the skills they need to write something that isn't completely awful.
Yes but why is the burden asymmetric? It is similarly impossible to predict the consequences of deregulation ahead of time yet proponents of deregulation are never held to the total unpredictability of the outcomes of their position.
I will partially counter that a much simpler class of regulations can cover more things in deregulation.
For example, if I just make fraud illegal, if you misrepresent what your evil I don't care what it is under deregulation I can get you. If you are honest about your evil it will be harder (but not impossible!) to sell it.
Deregulation also allows the "small guy" a better chance because to compete, and so with more choice the customer is likely to be more aware of choice.
Again, the above is not complete. There are big holes in this as well. Fundamentally there are always a subset of people who are willing to do evil to get ahead, if they can do their evil while being in the letter of the law they will. Society needs a way to deal with it, and nothing is perfect.
What's an example of this? The deregulation of airlines? The repeal of Glass-Steagall? I've read a lot of bad takes about the latter's supposed outcomes, but none of them claimed that the outcome was unpredictable.
It depends on what you mean by 'outcome.' If by outcome you mean that with GLBA/Glass-Steagall repeal banks began investing in the products they had previously been barred from then sure that was predictable. If we mean second order effects like it's possible contribution to the financial crisis then I'd say that was definitely unpredictable considering economists still can't agree on whether GLBA played a role or not.
What Obama should have done during the crisis is nationalize the failing big banks instead of bailing them out and then broken them down into a hundred little banks and sold them off.
George W. Bush presided over the crisis, despite what conservative media pundits would have you believe. It's amazing how this has been largely ret-conned for half the US population. We live in, uh, interesting times.
Also, I would guess with more competition from smaller banks, megabanks might actually act more responsibly.
[EDIT] but you are kind of proving my point, so thanks! I said "deregulation" so your mind is already made up on the point.
Wells Fargo seems to be particularly bad about things. I had a 'lifetime free checking account' with a local bank that ended up getting bought by Wells Fargo. About 3 years in to having my Checking there they tried to charge me a fee for it. I pointed out it was 'lifetime free' and they agreed to honor that when they bought the previous bank. They acquiesced and for the next year it was free. Then the fees started up again. Another call, another mea culpa, and quiet. Then the fees started up again. At that point I severed my banking relationship with them. (which I suppose is what they wanted)
My theory is that banks started out personal, but as they have consolidated have become ever more industrial in their scale and processes. Unfortunately, industrial-style human interaction is pretty awful.
I think the massive restructuring will come as banks split tasks into a) fully automating the boring things, and b) creating really good tools that empower their front-line workers (instead of treating them as dumb peripherals).
If our current major banks all went the way of Blockbuster during that process, I'll shed no tears. Few will, I imagine.
My favorite terrible story was a founder I know. His company just got funded and he got is first paycheck in a while, and he deposited it his Wells account. Well, he had a second account that was requiring payment, so they drained his primary account to level out the other account without telling him. He found out when his wife called him saying she was unable to buy groceries. Oh, and this was Christmas.
Even my credit union can be a pain in the ass. I had a check made out to my wife that needed to be deposited immediately. She signed it over to me and I took it to the CU. She wasn't on that account so they wouldn't deposit it without her being there. I went right outside and forced it through the ATM, which didn't make such stupid demands.
Your second story is a textbook example of why you should never open credit/loan accounts with a bank if you already have checking/savings there. You lose all leverage in negotiating debts, since they'll just take what they feel is owed when they get fed up with your delinquency. Wells Fargo did that to me, but I've seen that right reserved at more banks than just them.
(FWIW I have anecdotal evidence that both my local Wells Fargo and another big bank branch seemed to be stepping up service quality in response to the scandal. But again, that's not actually worth anything apart from demonstrating that anecdotes are insufficient.)
wells, chase, citi, BofA & the other big banks should be broken up into 100s of regional banks. lack of dignity and respect for customers follows from "too big to fail" (not to mention wasting trillions of our dollars without any punishment).
Why? Why not just have great customer service for the main bank?
These sub-brands aren't, AFAIK, aimed at better-off customers who are worth more (there are examples of that too - Santander has Cater Allen), so it's not like there's some greater payoff to decent customer service.
They are phone and online only, without physical branches, so there are lower costs. Perhaps it's that?
i'd say the main reason the main banks don't have good customer service is that they simply don't have to, and the actors therein have selfish aims. the fiefdoms of the large organization will typically divert resources to themselves (increase revenue, decrease operational expenses, and increase managerial compensation/headcount). consumer inertia allows this to happen (which is why i advocate moving away from big banks to promote competition and better service).
for getting cash, most credit unions are part of the co-op network for atms: https://co-opcreditunions.org/locator/ so you have similar availability to a major bank (but admittedly a little more obscured).
I started a company to challenge the incumbents after running a credit union as CTO.
So it's not that financial institutions can't be good at this, it's that the big banks fundamentally don't care about customers who aren't wealthy or institutional in nature.
But there are definitely alternatives like credit unions, online banks, and brokerage firms with banking services. Not that everyone of these is good, but you have options, especially if you live in a city, like most people on HN probably do.
Quit big banks. Join a credit union, tell your friends about it. Encourage your employer to switch banks too, if you are in a position to do so.
I've been with a credit union (ESL) for 5 years now and they are amazing.
But beyond that, I think Chase does a pretty good job overall with in-branch customer service. Their online/mobile banking is great. They're the best big bank by far IMO.
A few months (or maybe years?) ago here on HN I read a nice small article about that you always get screwed, not just with banks. Everywhere! The question is how, how much, and what for. Try to get screwed for a good reason, and if not possible at least for the smallest possible amount.
Not in the article but my experience so far: Try not get mad at the getting screwed part because it can't be avoided. And try not to imagine a fantasy world in which the screwing never happened before.
Some good thinking on this:
In context of amazon https://newrepublic.com/article/119769/amazons-monopoly-must...
In context of tech firms, Google, Facebook
It boils down to this: "Banks are always trying to get customers to think of them as trusted agents, while reserving the right to act as rapacious counterparties."
I like Matt Levine because his "I was on the inside" voice is pragmatic and straightforward, and often makes me stop and say, "Huh."
The good news is that this behavior is not universal, I looked around and there are banks with great customer service (in my case, i found ChaseManhattan to be superb, though it may be due to my "tier" and how much money i keep with them.)
Yes, my balance fluctuates wildly month-to-month. Travel.
This appears to happen with any proto-monopolistic entity. The problem is, unlike government protected 'businesses' like cell phone and cable companies, there is no monopoly in the Banking sector.
So, WHY, why are people still drawn to the lowest common denominator big banks for their accounts? It makes not sense.
I'm leaving this month from my own big bank, after their "FREE" online banking as long as you don't bother us, e-checking account, went from free to $12 a month.
Thats not the plan though. Now that they have IMF'd almost the whole world, they have no one elses pie to take from... so they are turning inwards. In order to do this, they are murdering and executing (American Psycho reference, but lots of literal truth there too) their way to the top, but not just in banking... in all industries. (bayer-monsanto being a good example).
What we need is anti-trust/anti-monopoly laws to actually be enforced... oh wait... the same bankers that need regulating basically own congress and many more. I'll never forget looking up my podunk Texas congressmans public financing and wonder why so many NY banks were donating to him. Until we find a way to start fixing congress (the closest to the people of the 3 branches) this will just happen again and again.
Personally, after hunting terrorists for the government in my youth, I've come to the conclusion that bankers are the real terrorists. Financial terrorists.
The disconnect from the ground (and being surrounded by cronies and yes-men/women who keep them blind and stupid) causes the poor service.
Is it (even) worse in banking, or is this just something that happens to all companies above a certain size? I can totally see it being the case that a more heavily regulated industry suffers more, but that's pure conjecture.
Bank of America is a master at minimizing cost - they are introducing vATMs - virtual assistant ATM - its a regular ATM but with two-way camera so you talk with banker that is obviously located somewhere else. Just 2 months ago someone was helping me with perfect English and she said shes in Texas. Just few days ago, same location I connect and there is a guy in turban around his head, with broken English and clock on the wall I can see pointing 3am (it was around 2pm EST). So there you have it. I bet within 2 years they will complete transition and 99% of branches will have those vATMs at the cost of 70% savings in location, wages, etc.
I am slowly shifting to smaller bank though where people know me by name, I deal with same people who help me without using phone and sometimes even computer. So far BB&T and First Republic are very good choices.
Mandatory: 37 banks become just 4
People I know are shocked when I tell them I enjoy going to the bank - I've never waited for more than 10 seconds to be helped, and they have done everything I asked within minutes.
And, not for nothing, they are constantly baking delicious chocolate chip cookies, too. More than once I have stopped at the bank for no reason just to get another cookie.
I came back ~1month later to re-deposit the check into SAME WF acct.
They stated that they had to put a hold on the check for 14 days until they could verify the funds. For a WF issued cashiers check. From the SAME act the funds came out of.
I changed banks that day.
Out of curiosity, if you care to disclose, what was your reasoning behind this?
If I'm a bank, I can see a couple of red flags with this (maybe some obscure kiting, or similar), "take five digit sum from account, in a check made out to self - then one month later deposit same uncashed check into originating account"... and "verifying the funds" is not verifying availability, but 'minimizing possibility of sketchiness'.
Check out Q2 and Malauzai in Austin (there are are several, these are just the two I have evaluated) for a stack that is agnostic of the core system and provides almost all banking functions across channels.
This kind of thing isn't cheap though, and bank boards are notoriously conservative when it comes to innovation, especially for small banks.
Hmm... does there really need to be any restructuring though? It sounds like you "opened up an account next door at a small local bank" without any problem, so the choices are there, and your choices in banking really aren't that limited.
Your frustration with bigger banks seems to be related to the fact that as banks become bigger, their clientele also tends to be represented by more and more corporations and high net worth individuals. Those clients undoubtedly contribute a larger percentage to the bank's bottom line, so their focus naturally shifts to serving those types more than the average person with a personal checking account.
Just because McDonalds is the easy choice, that doesn't mean it's the only choice. McDonalds' existence (or that of the big banks) doesn't mean the system is broken - only that our collective preferences probably need to change.
In exchange for this, if I'm traveling out of the country and don't want to rely solely on ATMs and credit cards, I first transfer some money into my WF account, and then I can go to the bank and pick up some, say, Canadian dollars, only paying the exchange rate (which last time I did this was equivalent to the rate on ATMs and credit cards). If it's not CAD/Euros/Pesos, I just call and they can order it for me.
When I was a teenager, my WF account was my main account, and every single time I went into the bank they tried to sign me up for a checking account. Wasn't surprised one bit when the scandal hit. (Fortunately, they never created any accounts for me.)
Ummm... Why not? There's plenty of accounts that refund ATM fees. I don't want to have to stop at the bank on my way out and i especially don't want to carry around more than $60 in cash. Especially in a foreign country!
They do not offer any other service or product that comes close to competing with my local credit union (or even most small banks).
The ONLY downside I've thought of, even though I haven't encountered it yet, is if you need to get a lot of cash you might have to jump through hoops. But you can get at least $200 from most ATMs so that's only a problem if you're going to pay cash for a car or something.
I always have a local bank just for the one time you need to go to a branch for something dumb once every ~5 years.
Regardless of customer service concerns, the rates on other financial services are simply more favorable at specialist firms. American Express for rewards credit cards, Vanguard for investment, Marcus or Ally for cash savings, etc. A local bank or credit union with impeccable customer service around a full suite of services is still probably not worth the money you're leaving on the table.
Not to say that Wells Fargo should not provide better service, but I just want to point out that these are two different types of banks.
I had a similar experience with Bank of America. The person who was supposed to help me was rude, untrained, and actually caused a lot of problems without addressing my original request (close my account); I later got help from a higher-up (actually trained) who did provide a modicum of service. I had a much better experience at a Credit Union.
I really want to believe there's something better. But I think the real choice is between "local bank" -- shitty website, hard-to-use ATMs that require putting checks in envelopes, bad hours OR a big national bank, where you're a number, but the software is good, there are branches everywhere, they have a good mobile app/good ATMs, etc.
My personal philosophy has become, "I'm ok being a number because I'm pretty average personally, but I want a local bank for business banking." It's worked so far.
My relatively large regional credit union has all the advantages you list for a big bank except branches everywhere when traveling, especially good ATMs and mobile app. And doesn't have the “your just a number” problem.
Okay, so pick any other bank which serves the entire community — whether it's a small credit union, a smaller regional bank, or a larger one which isn't BofA (I use TD Bank). The service will still be worlds better and they won't periodically require massive fraud prosecutions. It has nothing to do with the customers and everything to do with the corporate culture.
I agree that the culture at Wells Fargo appears to have been one of rapacious greed. What I do not understand is how the previous CEO and his underling (the woman who retired) were not hauled before a judge on a range of criminal charges. Maybe CFPB does not have prosecuting power, but surely they can refer to DoJ for prosecution?
Through all this digitization and cost savings the numbers of banks has gone down. From a infrastructure perspective it has never been as cheap and easy to start up a bank, and yet what we see is the opposite. Now why do we not see new competition in banking?
The reason I open and close so many accounts is churning the sign up bonuses.
Online systems let you weed out those who are going to cost you in terms of labor hours, so you can trim the 20% of customers who take up 80% of the resources.
The system around the world needs to be bleached clean by some harsh sunlight and broken apart so these messed up incentives are untangled.
Why the heck is the burden on ME to go look?
Building out services that are digital first so that the quality of service provided is actually scalable.