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 401(k) 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 401(k) plan effectiveness.

These companies know that 401(k)-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 401(k) 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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Mobile banking: Imagining the possibilities, and delivering

Remember when a mobile phone was just a phone? The days of picking up your phone, calling someone, and having a conversation seem so limited compared to your phone’s capabilities today. So much has changed since we launched mobile banking in 2007.

Today, more than 12 million Wells Fargo customers use a mobile device to do their banking. That number has grown by more than 20 percent from a year ago. Our team spends a lot of time in the field asking our customers what features they want from mobile banking:

  • They want to be able to bank when and where it’s convenient for them — whether in a restaurant, in a doctor’s office, or in line at the post office.
  • They don’t want to have to call or wait to log in to a desktop computer to accomplish tasks such as transferring money or making an appointment with a banker. They want to manage it all via mobile.
  • They want their mobile devices to give them updates.
  • They want mobile banking to be quick so it gives them back time in their already hectic days.
  • They need mobile banking to be safe and private.

Mobile banking has also broadened the services we offer customers. Before, most people weren’t carrying 12-megapixel camera phones in their pockets. Now they are. So, we can leverage that powerful camera so customers can deposit a check quickly and securely — without a trip to the ATM or a banking store.

Mobile check depositMany of our small business customers are big fans of mobile deposit. One of those is Innovative Water Sports, a small business north of San Francisco that makes fluzzle tubes — floating inner tubes that can be connected like a puzzle! Eduardo De Arkos, the co-owner, said mobile deposit is a real time-saver when he’s depositing checks for smaller orders.

We’re always looking for ways to make our mobile features even better, such as increasing the mobile deposit limit to $2,500 per day. Another new enhancement — Make an Appointment — allows customers to make an appointment with one of our bankers from their mobile device. Our team members love this, too, because they get notified when a customer makes an appointment.

One of my new favorite features is mobile push notifications. When I was a college student, I didn’t have much money. Stretching paychecks from my summer job through the whole year wasn’t easy, and I constantly had to check how much money I had in my account by waiting for my statement, going to an ATM, or calling an 800 number.

There were plenty of times I’d write a check and murmur a silent prayer that I’d balanced my checkbook correctly (yes, we used to have to do that)! Mobile push notifications automatically send messages to customers’ smartphones or tablets when their balances fall below a self-identified balance or if a customer’s contact information or password changes.

One of the most rewarding things about my job is to see all the ways that our customers are using our services. So, what would you like to see? What’s your favorite mobile banking feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

About Brett

As head of Product Management for Wells Fargo’s Digital Channels Group, Pitts leads product development and platform management across digital media for consumer, small business, and wealth customers. Under Pitts’s leadership, http://www.wellsfargo.com/ has grown significantly and today serves Wells Fargo’s 23 million online banking customers and 12 million mobile customers, and receives more than 60 million visitors a month.

Deposit products offered by Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Member FDIC.

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Sleds of gold: Wells Fargo’s gold rush history in Alaska

Wells Fargo Express - Gold shipment in Iditarod

A Wells Fargo gold shipment in Iditarod (Wells Fargo Messenger, May 1914).

Wells Fargo and Alaska are intertwined through history like lashings on dog sleds. Bought from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million, the Alaska territory was considered too vast, far away, and empty to be much good for anything. But history, including Wells Fargo’s own gold rush history in Alaska, proved the naysayers wrong.

In honor of that legacy and the centennial celebration of Anchorage, we sponsored the re-creation of a freight sled like those once used to haul gold.

Commemorative Iditarod freight sled

The commemorative freight sled at the ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod race.

Although Wells Fargo’s modern retail banking history in Alaska began in the 2000s, our presence in Alaska actually dates to 1883. That’s when its express business opened offices in Wrangell, Sitka, and Juneau to serve fish canneries and gold camps.

In 1911, Wells Fargo expanded by opening offices in 32 Alaska communities from Wrangell to Nome, bringing secure, reliable transport of mail and commodities as well as basic financial services.

The discovery of gold near Wrangell in 1861 created the first true Alaska gold rush. But it was the discovery of gold in Canada’s Klondike that brought tens of thousands of people north to try to cash in. Throngs of prospectors needed financial services, as well as mail, news, goods in and tons of gold out — and Wells Fargo was there.

Freight sled in the Alaska Heritage Museum

The old-style freighter sled in the Alaska Heritage Museum.

Two veteran dog mushers, Wells Fargo expressmen Bob Griffith and U.G. Norton, guided sled dog teams for 55 days to take the first winter gold shipment from the mining town of Iditarod in interior Alaska on Dec. 14, 1911. (Mushers often used more than one sled to haul out the heavy loads of gold.)

Over frozen lakes, rivers, tundra, and two mountain ranges, south to Seward they traveled, over a route now known as the Iditarod Trail but also historically known as the Seward-to-Nome Mail Trail.

In just a few years, airplanes replaced such long-distance sled runs. Today, most know “Iditarod” as the last great sled race on earth. (The Athabaskan word means “Far Away Place” or “Clear Water.”) The Iditarod race commemorates a 1925 run by sled dogs to deliver vaccine to Nome during a diphtheria outbreak.

In the modern race, mushers consider Iditarod a halfway point en route to the finish at Nome in odd years; in even years, the race bypasses Iditarod altogether.

While today’s mushers travel the Iditarod trail in lightweight sleds, old-time “freighters” were made of hardwoods and weighed more than 200 pounds before loading.

Wells Fargo Express office - Ruby, Alaska

Wells Fargo & Co. Express Office in Ruby, Alaska (Wells Fargo Messenger, April 1916).

As for the freight sled I mentioned earlier, Iditarod historian Rod Perry, his brother Allan, and their friend Cliff Sisson built an old-style freighter, one of the few produced in 70 years, just in time to lead the ceremonial start of the 2014 Iditarod race.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and visit with us in Anchorage at the Alaska Heritage Museum and see the sled in person. Or check our museum website for photos.

While Rod’s sled didn’t carry a ton of gold, it did set out with two Wells Fargo strong boxes aboard and 130 years of Wells Fargo history in Alaska.

About Tom

Bennett is museum manager for the Alaska Heritage Museum at Wells Fargo in Anchorage, Alaska. He oversees the museum’s collection of 6,000 historical objects and works of art as well as its 2,800-volume library.

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Mobile-first strategy makes deposits a snap for businesses

Are you old enough to remember a time when you had a faster computer and internet connection at your office than you did at home? I am! But nowadays, many of our business customers experience the opposite: They have better technology in their pockets and in their living rooms than in their offices.

Because of this trend, we’re thinking mobile-first — coming up with ways to harness the power of smartphones and tablets so businesses can spend less time managing their finances and more time serving their customers.

Wells Fargo's CEO Mobile service.

Wells Fargo’s CEO Mobile service.

I manage Wells Fargo’s business and commercial banking customer portal, Commercial Electronic Office®, or CEO® for short. In 2007, Wells Fargo was the first to launch a mobile-optimized banking service for commercial and corporate customers called CEO Mobile®, and that was the same year that the iPhone came out!

Since then, with the explosive growth of smartphones, our mobile banking platform has expanded and the number of users has grown rapidly. Case in point: We had more than $1 billion in checks and money orders deposited through the CEO Mobile Deposit service in 2013 alone.

You may say, “OK, I get how a consumer deposits a check using the Wells Fargo Mobile app on their phone, but how do businesses deposit hundreds of checks at a time? How can they do that by snapping photos of so many checks?” The fact is we have businesses of all sizes that find CEO Mobile Deposit to be valuable.

For example, we have clients with employees who travel, and as they receive a single check payment at a customer visit, they can snap a photo of it using our iPhone app before they even leave the customer’s location. We’re soon going to launch the service for Android phones.

In addition to shrinking employees’ to-do lists, we also lighten the load for our customers’ accounting department and speed up their cash flow.

We continue to invest in technology and mobile innovations. Clients aren’t as tethered to their office desks. When they wake up, they can check their smartphone or tablet to make sure their finances are in order. They can get out of the office on time to enjoy time with family and friends — and still stay in touch when they need to.

I am looking forward to the day when the “office” is a gathering space for people to collaborate — and much of the “desk work” will happen in the cloud — whether we are at home, on the road, or in a conference room. Giving our clients choice and control over how they want to work and socialize, while aiding in their success, makes the customer experience even better.

About Secil

Secil Tabli Watson is head of Wholesale Internet Solutions where she leads the internet and mobile teams for Wholesale Banking, responsible for supporting nearly 90 distinct business applications. Secil also guides the strategic direction of the company’s award-winning Commercial Electronic Office® (CEO®) customer portal. Her team is committed to providing best-in-class online and mobile channel experiences and delivering innovative solutions to provide convenient and secure banking access to satisfy customer needs and deepen relationships.

 


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