Wells Fargo was founded in 1826 in San Francisco by Henry Wells and William Fargo to serve the West, including services such as buying gold (ironically you cannot trade precious metals with Wells Fargo today) and express delivery (think: the famous stagecoach).
Wells Fargo is very much at the core of the established legacy banking industry. Why do 68 million people choose to bank with them?
To answer that question you need to know what people want from their bank — of course, this varies considerably. Accenture published a report on consumer banking needs and identified 3 main groups of people defined by their needs and expectations of their bank. These 3 groups are:
Nomads: This digitally active group is ready for new delivery models. They are willing to share their data in exchange for personalized services. Nomads are comfortable with computer-generated support and with receiving services from non-traditional providers. They make up 39% of banking respondents.
Hunters: These consumers search for the best price. They want to buy financial services from traditional providers and, while they operate well in a digital environment, they also place value on one-to-one engagement. They make up 17% of banking respondents.
Quality Seekers: These loyal customers value brand integrity and service excellence, and will work with providers who put customers’ interests first. Price is less important than elements such as data protection and responsive service. They make up 44% of banking respondents.
For the purposes of this post, we are going to focus on Nomads, because Hunters and Quality Seekers make up the bulk of those consumers who are not open to change or alternative banking services. For those latter two groups, there is little or nothing you can do to change their minds despite the evidence. They are the people that this bank CEO was talking about when he said: “You have to torture people pretty hard before they leave a bank” (Nonfiction Research).
But why would anyone in the Nomad category choose to bank with Wells Fargo or indeed any legacy bank?
We did a comparison of Wells Fargo Portfolio account, their premium checking account, and Unifimoney, a premium digital bank for high-earning professionals.
The Portfolio checking account pays a paltry 0.01% and savings 0.01% which is err... the same. Ah, but you can get a “bonus” that brings the APY up to 0.02% if you have a linked checking account. So, that's something...
The Portfolio account charges a $30 Service fee, but this is waived for accounts with at least $24K in cash deposits or $50K in combined deposits, investments, and credit.
Clearly, no one is banking with Wells due to value for money. It must be something else.
The Portfolio account does provide access to Robo investing and self-directed trading. Their Robo offering — dubbed Intuitive Investor — costs 0.35% of AUM and requires a minimum $5K investment. This is in line with, if slightly more expensive than, the likes of Wealthfront, M1 and Betterment at 0.30%, but a lot more expensive than Unifimoney at 0.15%. However, if you link your Portfolio account you are eligible for a discount! How great is that? Only the discount is 0.05%. So, still an expensive option.
You are also able to trade on Wells Fargo with online trades being free (excluding options), though there is a $30 annual fee.
The investment platform does not include alternative assets, such as cryptocurrency or precious metals (Unifimoney will support both assets but this is not yet live as of Feb 2021).
So, while you can manage your investments and bank account in the same place with Wells Fargo, it is an expensive option and the limited functionality (e.g. excluding alt assets) makes paying a premium for the service seem less than optimal. We think you can do better.
Now, we realize we are hardly a subjective source on this and we encourage you to research all the options. We believe Unifimoney offers better value for money, and more features and functionality that enable you to manage your money better with less effort.
Unifimoney seeks to solve for the majority of the manual labor involved in managing your money. More often than not, the manual labor of personal finance means we leave too much money sitting in deposit accounts earning little or no interest, we don’t redeem 100% of our credit card rewards and benefits, and we don’t dollar-cost average into a low cost diversified fund.
Our goal is a simple one: create more value for our users’ money. That’s why we wanted to lay out our case as rationally and objectively as possible.
If you want to learn more about Unifimoney you can visit our website at www.unifimoney.com.
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The above does NOT constitute an offer, solicitation of an offer, nor advice to buy or sell specific securities. The opinions listed above are not the opinions of Unifimoney Inc. or Unifimoney RIA, Inc. but represent the opinions of independent contributors. These contributors may or may not hold positions in the stocks discussed. Investors should always independently research any stocks listed and form their own opinions, while recognizing that any investments made may lose value, are not bank guaranteed and are not FDIC insured.