EasyLunchboxes: Growing to sell with Wells Fargo Works

Editor’s note: Singer, actress, and mompreneur Kelly Lester gives an update on EasyLunchboxes, which she founded in 2009. It’s one of five businesses that received $25,000 each and professional guidance through the Wells Fargo Works Project video series.

I’m deep into my favorite season for EasyLunchboxes.com: Back to school. For those of us in the lunchbox business, it’s like Christmas season for retailers.

Kelly at home with EasyLunchboxes's signature products.

Kelly at home with EasyLunchboxes’s signature products.

2014 already has been a productive year, thanks in part to being featured in the Wells Fargo Works Project, which included $25,000 in goods and services for my business which sells Bento-style compartmentalized lunch containers and cooler bags that make packing lunches fun, easy and green.

As an actress and singer, I love being in front of the camera, so I was thrilled when Wells Fargo gave me the resources to produce two new videos. The first video, now on my website and YouTube channel, added more than 50,000 new Facebook fans.

I’m in pre-production on the second video — a hip-hop music video featuring me, some of the coolest teens on the block, and of course, lunch packing! Nutritious, delicious lunches, packed for work or school, are my passion.

All this exposure has further boosted sales for the fifth consecutive year of record receipts for EasyLunchboxes. Our products are sold online in the U.S. and Canada, and I’m excited that they’ll soon be available in Australia, too.

Meet the other businesses showcased in the video series on the Wells Fargo Stories website. Created to help others learn from our experiences, the series is part of Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM, the company’s commitment to small businesses.

Given these growth trends, I believe the time is right for me to turn my company over to someone with experience in worldwide distribution and relationships with large retailers.

That will, in turn, expand sales channels outside of my own website and Amazon.com and allow me to realize my goal of stepping down as owner while remaining the face of the EasyLunchboxes brand. 

I’ve just partnered with an investment banker to guide me through the process, identify and negotiate with the right parties, and successfully complete the transaction. Coco Soodek, the small business consultant Wells Fargo hired to work with me during the video, helped me make that important connection.

As a business owner, I’ve also learned how important a comprehensive business valuation is to selling your business. That was done by Wells Fargo business advisors. I now have peace of mind knowing Wells Fargo’s valuation will be an important tool as my investment banker begins to talk with potential buyers.

Through Wells Fargo Works, I’m grateful to Wells Fargo for allowing me to share my products, packing tips, and healthy living ideas with more families than ever before.

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Improving conditions boost Small Business Index score

In another sign of our improving economy, our latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index survey of small business owners finds optimism continuing to trend up as conditions improve for their businesses.

Conducted July 7-11, the quarterly survey of 600 small business owners measures current and future perceptions of business health. The overall index score of positive 49 reported in third quarter 2014 is up two points from April.

This slight uptick matches what we’re seeing in the economy overall: Optimism is up, but still a long way from pre-recession levels.

The change in the “present situation” score, or how business owners rate the current conditions for their businesses, drove much of the gains. It’s now at positive 18, which is higher than at any other point since third quarter 2008.

Businesses are cautiously optimistic

3Q 2014 small business index infographic chart image

The positive 49 score reported in third quarter 2014 is two points higher than April 2014. Click the image to see the full infographic of the results.

In our July survey (see an infographic of the results), more small business owners reported that their company’s revenue has increased during the past 12 months (43 percent) than reported an increase in the April survey (36 percent). Cash flow and the ease of obtaining credit during the past 12 months also have improved.

But all the good news is tempered by a less-positive trend: Small business owners remain wary of the future. In fact, the “future expectations” score in our survey is positive 31, down two points from the second quarter.

That’s an area of concern since business owners are optimists by nature. The fact is, small business owners still face a host of challenges. In our survey, they put attracting and retaining customers, growing sales, and finding new business atop the list. When asked for the biggest obstacle to generating new business, small business owners cited: marketing and advertising (14 percent); competition (13 percent); making product improvements and having the latest products (10 percent); and the costs of running the business (10 percent).

Tackling business challenges with technology

Fluzzle Tube customers use the inflatables for a river outing.

Fluzzle Tube customers use the inflatables for a river outing.

What keeps us motivated and encouraged about the future are the countless business owners we work with who are overcoming challenges and finding opportunities every day — including using technology to work smarter and reach more customers.

In fact, we added questions to our latest survey about the impact and use of technology in business. The results clearly show that many are using mobile technology to run and market their businesses and to communicate with their customers.

Fluzzle Tube, based in Sonoma Valley, California, is a case in point. The company name comes from the connective, floating, puzzle-shaped water tubes it makes. Recent college grads, Fluzzle Tube’s co-founders Eddie De Arkos and Clark Whitehead count themselves among the business owners (and Wells Fargo customers) who say sales are up and who expect more of the same in the year ahead.

Whitehead (left) and De Arkos check some of their interlocking water tubes before shipment in the Fluzzle Tube warehouse.

Whitehead (left) and De Arkos check some of their interlocking water tubes before shipment in the Fluzzle Tube warehouse.

Running their company often keeps them out of the office, and out on the river. Fluzzle Tube is among the 40 percent of businesses that told us they are using smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices to do business.

Says Eddie, “I think technology has been the reason we’ve grown exponentially between year one and year two. The Wells Fargo mobile app we use helps our business be more efficient because we’re able to check on the spot how much money we have, and whether transfers went out. We can take pictures of our checks from large retailers using our mobile devices and can submit and transfer them wherever they need to go.”

Looking ahead

It’s encouraging to work with companies like Fluzzle Tube as they find creative ways to build and grow their company at a time when many remain cautious.

It may take time before overall small business optimism and future expectations return to pre-recession levels, but customers like Eddie and Clark remind me every day that the economy is slowly improving, and good things really do lie ahead.

About Doug

Case is Wells Fargo’s Small Business Segment manager responsible for the strategic direction of Wells Fargo’s focus on small business, which includes the Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM website on wellsfargo.com and its research, tools, and other resources for existing and prospective business owners. Today, Wells Fargo serves approximately 3 million small business customers with annual revenues up to $2 million. Since August 2003, the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has surveyed small business owners on current and future perceptions about the financial condition of their business.

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Zoey Van Jones: Building a national brand with Wells Fargo Works

Editor’s note: Zoey Van Jones gives this update about her Zoey Van Jones Brow Studio — one of five businesses awarded $25,000 and professional guidance through the Wells Fargo Works Project video series.

Zoey at her brow studio in Pasadena

Zoey at her brow studio in Pasadena

As an eyebrow artist and owner of Zoey Van Jones Brow Studio, it’s important that I read the latest beauty magazines to keep up with the current trends and changing styles.

But I never imagined these same publications would quote me. Yet there I was in Elle.com and Latina Magazine being quoted as a “brow expert” and offering commentary on how brows can change your face. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t daydreaming!

The coverage is one of many results of being featured in the Wells Fargo Works Project and its educational video series built around the real-life stories of five businesses. Created to help others learn from our experiences, the series is part of Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM, the company’s commitment to small businesses.

Meet the other businesses showcased in the video series on the Wells Fargo Stories website.

Many business owners beat the June 30 deadline to enter the Wells Fargo Works Project contest where they could win an experience like mine, including $25,000. I can’t wait to find out who the winners are in September and see how Wells Fargo helps them grow their business.

As for me, I’ve been a happy Wells Fargo customer and was thankful when the bank supported my business aspirations and provided me with an SBA Express Loan to help my expansion plans.  Then this year, through the Wells Fargo Works Project, the bank also connected  me with a business advisor who offered helpful advice to grow my business and a video blogger to increase traffic to my company’s website. Did it work? Absolutely! My blogger aired a segment on YouTube with a link to my company’s website, which received more than 20,000 visits that day – more than triple the weekly traffic.

The first round of branded ZVJ tweezers are headed to market on our website in early August after taking them to the wholesale market in July, and a new ZVJ tutorial video on how to shape your eyebrows is on YouTube.

At this time last year, I often wondered, “Wouldn’t it be great to sell my products nationally?”

Flash forward to today, and I’m rapidly closing in on that goal. On July 13-15 we showcased our brand and products to top retailers at Cosmoprof in Las Vegas, the largest beauty trade show in the nation.

Our new dedicated sales representative has already generated interest from a major Midwest beauty supply chain and other top retailers, and our next product — ZVJ brow pencils — is in development and slated for launch this fall.

Our success has been overwhelming, and none of it would have been possible without Wells Fargo. To have a major financial institution support your dreams is amazing. Doors that were closed before are now wide open, and I’m taking advantage of every opportunity.

I’m truly excited for the future as I continue to take the Zoey Van Jones brand national. My vision is for people across the country to depend on my products to get that perfect shape for their eyebrows!

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Tips for buying a home: Overcoming three myths of homeownership

For decades, homeownership has been an essential element of the American dream. And buying a home has been viewed as a powerful, positive, and life-changing experience.

Yet I continue to hear from a surprising number of people who believe homebuying is out of reach — particularly those with low to moderate incomes, or who’ve had credit issues in the past, or are unsure of how to build credit.

For Sale - SoldWhen I dig a little deeper, three key myths seem to be at play — and the following tips for buying a home can help remove the perceived roadblocks:

Myth 1: You need 20 percent of the home’s price as a down payment. It’s true that if you put down more, you will have a lower monthly payment. However, 20 percent isn’t necessarily the standard anymore. Through programs like those offered by the FHA (Federal Housing Administration), the down payment for many first-time homebuyers is as low as 3.5 percent.

Myth 2: You need perfect credit. While a strong credit history is helpful, a lower score doesn’t rule out owning a home. Your credit history and credit score will be examined before the decision to loan you money, so it’s a good idea to check your credit history and correct any problems before applying.

Myth 3: The process is too hard. Buying a home can be complicated — but it doesn’t have to be, especially if you’re prepared. Loans must be fully documented, so understanding the types of documentation required is important. Many first-time homebuyers find that the loan application process seems easier than expected when they educate themselves and understand what’s needed at the beginning.

In addition, it’s important to educate yourself so you can make informed choices. Tools like the Online Learning and Planning Center, the My FirstHome® and My Home RoadmapSM services, and the Hands on Banking,® NeighborhoodLIFT® and CityLIFT® programs can help people who are looking to buy, but may not be credit-ready or just need additional information.

Homeownership is personal and powerful

In 1993 interest rates were more than 7 percent. I’ll never forget it because that was the year my wife and I bought our first home together, and we thought we got a great deal! The home was modest, but it felt huge compared to the apartment we’d been renting – and we loved it. There was something undeniably special about having a home to call our own and a place to build our life together.

Today, interest rates are lower and the housing landscape has changed, but what remains constant is the sense of personal pride and financial achievement that comes with owning a home.

In the end, homeownership remains a tremendous opportunity and a tremendous responsibility. And while it may not be right for everyone, if you’re ready to buy and you prepare for the process, it may not be as difficult as you think.

Do you have a personal story about how homeownership helped you achieve your dreams? Use the “Leave a comment” feature below to share your ideas.

About Franklin

Codel is the head of Mortgage Production for Wells Fargo Home Lending, which includes sales, operations, quality, compliance, underwriting, and support for the company’s Retail and Correspondent Mortgage lending channels.

© 2014 Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. NML SR ID 399801

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Shifting from corporate social responsibility to relevancy

Recently I was having dinner with my friend Nate Garvis, who led Target’s government and public affairs function for nearly two decades and is now working at the intersection of design thinking and entrepreneurial strategy as co-founder of Studio/E.

Nate is taking a very different approach to what it takes to build healthier communities. He’s one of the many corporate social responsibility practitioners I’ve had the privilege of getting to know over the past six years who challenges me to think differently with his insightful questions.

Cover of the 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Cover of the 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

We were discussing our work and it led to a conversation about critical social and environmental issues facing today’s society, including changing demographics, growing income disparities, and the expanding business potential for green energy and other clean technologies — all topics important to corporate social responsibility at Wells Fargo and many other companies.

What we saw:

We need to shift our focus, and also the words we use, from “responsibility” to “relevancy.”

The term “responsibility” implies obligations and checkboxes. “Relevancy” challenges us to align our decisions and actions with the interests and concerns of others inside and outside our companies.

“Relevancy” also inspires us to use our resources, expertise, and relationships to better society, the environment, and our companies over the long haul — not just through philanthropy and volunteerism, but in how we conduct business.

The public rightfully expects us to be responsible in how we run our organization, but that is not enough.

We need to become relevant to the world our communities want to build by engaging in actions, including providing products and services, that our communities believe have a positive impact.

When our communities see us thinking and acting in ways that are important to them, we can create a powerful differentiation in the marketplace and build our businesses in the right way and for the right reasons.

Let me give you an example. One of our country’s most pressing issues is the growing income gap between rich and poor. We know Wells Fargo alone can’t solve the problem, but we can do our part.

We can expand access to high-quality and responsible banking products and services. We can provide financial counseling and other financial education. We can lead conversations and brainstorm solutions with industry groups and community stakeholders. We can provide needed capital and education to strengthen small businesses, like our work alongside nonprofit Grameen America to help low-income women build small business through microloans.

The bottom line:  We must do all of these things to remain relevant. If we don’t, we’ll fail.

In our 2013 Corporate Social Responsibility Report launched today, our Chairman and CEO John Stumpf writes: “Our progress has not been perfect. We know there are many opportunities ahead for Wells Fargo.” I think one of our most important opportunities is to think less about being “responsible” and more about being “relevant.”

What do you think are the most relevant social, economic, and environmental issues that we should focus on? Use the “Leave comment” feature below to share your ideas.

About Jon

Campbell is the director of Government and Community Relations for Wells Fargo and oversees the company’s federal and state government relations, strategic philanthropy and partnerships, environmental affairs, community relations, diversity and inclusion, and Community Reinvestment Act risk management.

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Millennials and retirement: 3 lessons from the Great Recession

Millennials think differently about debt, saving, and their overall future because of the Great Recession.

In fact, according to our latest 2014 Wells Fargo Millennial Study, 80 percent of young adults aged 22 to 33 say the downturn taught them to save “now” to survive economic problems down the road.

Mellennial Study InfographicHow many are actually putting that into practice? About half (55 percent) are saving for retirement. The rest (45 percent) aren’t yet saving for retirement, though survey results indicate this generation is confident they can save enough to create the lifestyle they want in the future. In addition, millennials feel confident about their future – with 84 percent feeling they have the skills to succeed in their career goals. When it comes to millennials and retirement saving, the key obstacle to overcome is debt.

Four in 10 call their debt “overwhelming.” While student loan debt may feel like the greatest concern to many millennials, it actually doesn’t take the biggest monthly bite out of pay. It’s third on the list after credit card and mortgage debt, and three-quarters of those who attended college say their education was worth the cost. For about half of those we surveyed (47 percent), debt eats up more than half their monthly earnings.

Based on these experiences, millennials in our survey ranked these as the top three lessons they’ve learned about saving for retirement and the financial advice they’d give to those following in their footsteps:

Lesson 1: Don’t spend more than you earn – While this may seem obvious, it’s important to look at what your monthly budget is: What’s coming in and what’s going out. Debt plays a big role for many, so managing debt is critical. This might involve delaying some immediate gratification, but being able to put some money aside for the future can be rewarding.

Lesson 2: Get educated about your personal finances – There’s a lot to know about personal finance and it’s not necessarily taught in school. Try using retirement-planning checklists in stages to help guide your financial journey. It’ll get you thinking about how much to save each month, enrolling in a retirement plan at work, and saving automatically.

Lesson 3: Start saving for retirement now – When you’re young, it’s easy to feel like you have plenty of time and you can put off saving until later. But saving now really does pay off in the long run, even if you start off with just a little. Try My Retirement PlanSM and see how much you should be saving today for your future self. Check out some Rules to Save By.

Did the Great Recession of 2008 teach you that you need to save now? How satisfied are you with your debt and saving levels? What financial advice would you give to those starting out? Use the Leave a Comment feature below to share.

About Karen

Karen Wimbish is the director of Retail Retirement for Wells Fargo and oversees the company’s strategies to help retail customers plan for and live a comfortable retirement.

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3 measurements to increase 401k plan effectiveness

Early in my career, I worked with a company that had a key saying: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”

As an actuary, I love all things quantifiable and analytical, so it’s probably no surprise that over the years I’ve found this tenet repeatedly true in life and business.

401kThat’s why one key finding from our Plan Sponsor Survey of companies offering retirement plans for their employees took me aback: Forty-six percent said they do not measure how many of their employees will be financially prepared for retirement!

This is a huge opportunity to increase 401k plan effectiveness.

These companies know that 401k-type plans will be the primary form of retirement savings and income for many of their employees at retirement. And they rank “providing employees with the financial ability to retire” and “ensuring that employees appreciate and use the 401k plan” atop their priorities for offering retirement plans.

But nearly half don’t know whether they’re being successful.

Employers can close the gap by using three key measures of retirement plan effectiveness:

Participation — How many of your employees participate in your plan, or were automatically enrolled? According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 53.5 percent of employees who work for an employer or a union that sponsored a retirement or pension plan actually participate.

Contribution — Are your employees contributing enough of their pay? A good rule of thumb is to set a goal of at least 10 percent of pay (including the employee’s contribution and the company match).

Diversification — Are your employees investing their plan balances in an appropriately diversified mix of investments? A minimum diversification goal should include either two equities and a fixed income fund or an asset allocation fund such as a target date fund, and should include less than 20 percent in employer stock.

The real work begins after you measure. Fortunately, a host of tools and features are available to help you respond to the findings, such as automatic enrollment, automatic contribution increases, fully diversified single-fund options such as target date funds, and creative employee communications and education.

What I’ve found working for Wells Fargo, a large provider of retirement services, is that once companies know where they stand and are measuring the effect of changes, it’s much easier to focus resources where they drive better retirement outcomes for employees.

Whether it’s preparing for a financially secure retirement or another important goal, when was the last time measurement helped you make positive changes? Use the “Leave comment” feature below to share your stories.

About Betsy
Hammond is the director of Wells Fargo Retirement’s actuarial and employee benefits consulting division. A fellow of the Society of Actuaries, her team helps more than 1,000 institutional clients design their employee benefit programs.

This information and any information provided by employees and representatives of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and its affiliates is for educational purposes only and does not constitute investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. Please contact your investment, financial, tax, or legal advisor regarding your specific needs and situation.


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Attention, employers: 4 ways to support military spouses

As we honor the brave men and women who died serving our country this Memorial Day, it’s also a great time to remember those who serve today — the ones on active duty and those who hold down the fort at home.

Regardless of the service branch, being a military spouse — and finding a company that knows how to support military spouses — isn’t easy. I know. For nearly six years, my husband, Paul, was a Navy Master at Arms.

Amy and Paul at his “A” School graduation.

Amy and Paul at a Navy event.

Fortunately, my employer, Wells Fargo, is committed to finding careers for military veterans and supporting service members and their families while honoring the unique strengths we bring to the workplace.

How can you experience the same results at your company? Here are four ways employers can support military spouses and put us at “ease”:

1. Employ us. Being a military spouse isn’t for everyone, bringing deployments and long separations. But this also produces strong and self-reliant workers committed to keep marriages and families strong and thriving — the same qualities that make us great employees. Paul and I spent our first four years living in separate states. He was stationed at Naval Base Kitsap in Washington; I continued my career in communications with Wells Fargo in San Francisco. This provided stability and gave me purpose, especially during long periods of time apart. In many ways, my work put me at ease.

2. Assist us when our country calls our spouses to new duty stations. At first, I was nervous to tell my employer that Paul was in the Navy for fear I would be labeled a “job jumper.” When Paul received orders to Naval Base San Diego, the largest naval instillation in the world, I was excited but anxious. To my surprise, my manager, co-workers, and company valued my husband’s service to our country — and my professional contributions — so that I was able to transfer to another communications team as I moved from San Francisco to San Diego.

3. Support us during important military milestones. For me, that included being able to use my paid time off to go to Chicago for Paul’s boot camp graduation and to Texas when he graduated from “A” School, where enlistees learn their job assignments.

4. Embrace us, because community matters. I was born and raised in Johnson City, N.Y., and my entire family lives on the East Coast.  There were times, however, when I still felt alone while Paul was away — like his deployments aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. When I took Paul to 32nd Street Naval Base to disembark, I knew I wouldn’t see him for many months. During these emotional times, my teammates became my support system. I’ll never forget all the times they invited me into their homes for the holidays when I couldn’t make it back East, or how they kept me plugged in at work and into volunteer opportunities in San Diego.

Amy joins teammates at the Neil Ash USO Center in San Diego to fill “welcome home” bags for returning service members.

Amy joins teammates at the Neil Ash USO Center in San Diego to fill “welcome home” bags for returning service members.

On this Memorial Day, join me as I thank those in uniform — and their spouses, partners, and employers — for their service. Please use the ‘‘Leave a comment” feature below to share your own story, and the support that has meant the most to you.

For me, having a supportive employer has made all the difference. No one ever said being a military wife would be easy. But as I look back at those six years, I couldn’t be more proud of the character I built, the friends I made, and the career I launched while serving my country.

About Amy

Savicky-Injaian is a Wells Fargo communications consultant based in San Diego.  A 10-year company veteran, she’s responsible for media relations, executive advocacy, and team member communications for Wells Fargo’s Community Bank in San Diego and Imperial counties.

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Clearing skies: What the Small Business Index shows us today

As much of the U.S. emerges from a long winter, it may not come as a surprise to see optimism rise with temperatures this spring. And we’re seeing just that among small business owners.

In fact, the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index shows optimism among business owners is at its highest level in six years — increasing in six of the past seven quarters. The second-quarter index score is now at positive 47, up from positive 16 just a year ago.

A little better, a long way to go

That’s a great trend to see. Yet the full picture is not as sunny. Like temperatures rising from single digits to the low 20s, the small business optimism score is still not the number we want to see. We’re less than halfway to the highest score in survey history (positive 114 in fourth quarter 2006). The lowest point was a negative 28 in third quarter 2010.

Even as the economy has continued to improve, the latest index score stayed relatively unchanged from the first quarter’s 45. Business owner perceptions of their company’s financial situation, capital spending, and cash flow have only improved slightly since the first quarter.

Questions we’re asking

So what will it take to fully restore optimism? Or is this the new normal for business owner optimism?  What do you think? Share your thoughts using the “Leave a comment” feature below. These are questions that drive us to find more ways to support small business owners.

Listening to business owners

Business Banker Seth Feibelman (left) with Bruce at the new Wells Fargo-financed home of Groovin’ Gourmets.

Business Banker Seth Feibelman (left) with Bruce at the new Wells Fargo-financed home of Groovin’ Gourmets.

Finding the answers requires listening closely to customers like Groovin’ Gourmets — a catering business in Richmond, Va. – who are ready to invest in their businesses when the right opportunity arises.

Business owner Brandon Bruce told us: “My company has evolved tremendously from when it opened 15 years ago. When I started, Groovin’ Gourmets solely focused on Monday-through-Friday corporate deliveries, and I wanted to scale the business. About seven years ago, we also started executing full-service weddings and larger events. We have capitalized on solid business relationships and grown through referrals. Today, our three divisions cater to the corporate market, weddings and social parties, and community events.”

To support its growth into new markets, Groovin’ Gourmets recently moved into a 9,000-square-foot building financed by Wells Fargo.

What gives us hope

We’re optimistic more small businesses will see opportunities in the year ahead to grow. Future expectations are helping push optimism up. In the April survey, a larger percentage of small business owners said they expect their revenue to increase in the coming year. And more business owners say they plan to increase rather than decrease capital spending in the next 12 months.

What we’re doing to help

We want to build on this momentum and support more small business owners. We also want to refocus the national conversation around small business. It’s why we launched Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM  — a commitment to deliver a wide range of products, resources, and guidance to help small businesses take the next step towards their goals. We also set a new five-year goal: to extend $100 billion in new small business loans by 2018.

Not unlike forecasting the weather, it’s difficult to say with certainty what we’ll see tomorrow based on what we see today. Yet we know small business owners are resilient and will be ready to build their businesses as their confidence grows.

About Doug

Case leads Wells Fargo’s focus on small business, which includes the Wells Fargo Works for Small BusinessSM website on wellsfargo.com and its research, tools, and other resources for existing and prospective business owners. Wells Fargo is the nation’s leading lender to small businesses in dollars and the leading lender of Small Business Administration 7(a) loans in dollars for five consecutive years, according to government data. Since August 2003, the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index has surveyed small business owners on current and future perceptions about the financial condition of their businesses.

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Four investing lessons from the 2008 financial crisis

Sixteen months ago, I got some very bad news from my doctor.

It could have been far worse had I not hired a trainer a couple of years previously who helped me establish a disciplined workout plan that improved my physical health and allowed me to weather the crisis and recover faster.

A similar jolt hit investors in 2008. To better understand the investing lessons from the 2008 financial crisis and how it affected investment psyches, our Wells Fargo Private Bank recently commissioned a study of affluent investors by the independent research firm TNS.

The results (summarized in the infographic below) reminded me again of the similarities between financial and physical health and the importance of four key investing lessons during tough times that apply to any investor, regardless of the investment amount:

  1. Tomorrow is another day.
    Five years ago, and against the professional advice of advisors who urged maintaining a well-balanced portfolio, many investors completely withdrew from the market. Since then, the S&P 500 has gained more than 200 percent in total returns! For those who pulled out, this turnaround represents a greater lost opportunity than the actual decline in asset valuation, and delayed their ability to recover. While staying the course is best, the urge to let short-term setbacks lead to short-term actions is strong. In the study, 33 percent of investors told us the crisis is still a factor in how they invest, and 21 percent of them add that nothing can convince them to add to their portfolios. More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed who stayed in the market in 2008-09 said they would do so again if another downturn took place.
  2. Live more, save more.
    Although we’re living longer, which requires money to last even longer for retirement, our survey said many investors still aren’t adjusting their portfolios to accommodate longer lives and the potential impact of inflation. Don’t make this same mistake with your wealth plan.
  3. Consider the source.
    While half of those surveyed consider their advisor their primary investment information source, an additional 25 percent rely on the media, 17 percent follow an investment plan, and 8 percent make investment decisions based on “gut instinct.” Using the health analogy again, if you were sick, would you look to the media or your “gut instinct” for diagnosis and treatment? No, you’d probably seek guidance from a medical professional. Why not seek the advice of a financial professional for your wealth health?
  4. Control what you can: your response.
    Despite the gaps found, one of the most encouraging results of the study was the reported lessons learned from the bear market of 2008-09. Just like for physical health, we can’t control the unexpected — only our reaction. Among investor takeaways from the crisis: staying disciplined (34 percent); staying diversified in asset choices (31 percent); avoiding taking action based on emotions (18 percent); and using a professional to guide investment decisions (17 percent).

By creating an investment plan with a professional, investors gain more conviction about their investment strategies and identify the risk they’re willing to take to reach long-term goals long before a momentary downtown.

So when markets cool and waver, consider your advisor like a fitness trainer — reminding you why you worked together to put your plan into place and motivating you to keep at it to reach your long-term goals.

How did the financial crisis affect your personal investment decisions? Do the study results surprise you? Have you experienced life challenges that affected your financial decisions?  Use the “Leave a comment” feature to share.

Four investing lessons from the 2008 financial crisis

About the author

Junkans is the chief investment officer for Wells Fargo’s Wealth, Brokerage and Retirement business, where he oversees more than $1.4 trillion in assets.


This information is for educational purposes only and should not be used or construed as financial advice, an offer to sell, a solicitation, of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any security. Wells Fargo does not guarantee that the information supplied is complete or timely, undertake to advise you of any change in its opinion, or make any guarantees of future results obtained from its use. Wells Fargo & Company affiliates may issue reports or have opinions that are inconsistent with, and reach different conclusions from, this report. 

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