fresh voices from the front lines of change







As the debate heats up over Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, I took a step out on my own. I got a divorce. I am no longer a wholly owned subsidiary of Wells Fargo Bank.

First Wells Fargo acquired the bank I’d been banking in. Then Wells Fargo acquired my mortgage. The roof over my head and the little savings accounts where my kids manage their newspaper money were just parts of Wells Fargo’s diversified portfolio. So we left.

I opened a new account at a community bank near me. It has exactly the same tools for online banking, check cards and so forth that I’ve come to expect, and better interest rates on every product from checking to CDs to my kids’ little savings accounts. I’m even better off with ATMs. I feared I’d be limited, but my community bank solves the problem by picking up the fees for me to use any ATM at any bank anywhere in the world.

The staff was friendlier, too. Many of them previously worked for banks like Citi and Wells Fargo, and they appreciated the cultural change even more than I did. They stayed open a little late to accommodate my work schedule, and we finished up by telephone and email.

I learned a bunch in the process, too. I learned that the Huffington Post was way ahead of me. They recommended that people make this move last year, and they even created a site to help find your local bank and tell your story.

Last year my bank was one of the four that held half of the nation’s mortgages, two-thirds of its credit cards and controlled about 40 percent of the nation’s deposits. My bank was one of the six that had assets valued at 64 percent of America’s GDP. That’s too big. I took no pride in it, and got nothing out of it. As Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) says, a bank that’s too big to fail is “too big to exist”. We need to control these banks and restore the New Deal Glass-Steagall reforms that created a division between investment brokers and traditional banks. We also need Elizabeth Warren at the CFPB.

I can’t do much about any of that – but I still control my own money. Wells Fargo no longer does. One small blow against Big Brother Inc.

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