September 14, 2018

Supporting the Hispanic community in ‘the new mainstream economy’

Speaking at a national Hispanic leadership event, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan highlighted the company’s commitment to boosting Hispanic homeownership, entrepreneurs, and financial education.

Nota del editor: También está disponible una versión en español de esta historia.

From consumers and homeowners to small businesses, Wells Fargo will support the fast-growing Hispanic community at every level as a key engine of the emerging U.S. economy, CEO Tim Sloan said Sunday, Sept. 9, at a national Hispanic leadership conference in San Diego.

Speaking at the first annual L’Attitude conference, which highlights the expanding impact of Hispanics in the U.S., Sloan noted Wells Fargo’s continued focus on this growing market in recent years. The company, he said, has made a 10-year, $125 billion commitment to Hispanic homeownership financing and set aside $100 million for investment in minority- and women-owned small businesses.

“We’re seeing major changes in demographics in terms of how the Hispanic population is going to make a huge difference in the American economy — even beyond what it has made so far,” he said in a panel discussion on “The New Mainstream Economy.” The panel was moderated by global media-communications executive Sol Trujillo, former CEO of US West, and included Geoff Colvin, Fortune Magazine’s senior editor at large, and Ralph de la Vega, chairman of De La Vega Group and former vice chairman of AT&T Inc.

CEO Tim Sloan discusses the growing role of the Hispanic community in the U.S. at the 2018 L’Attitude conference on Sept. 9 in San Diego. (1:44)

Wells Fargo made the $125 billion commitment two years ago in connection with the Hispanic Wealth Project, a campaign by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals “to create more Hispanic homeowners than has ever been created in this economy,” he said. “Because we know homeownership is fundamental in terms of good economic growth.”

Sloan said the effort to boost Hispanic homeownership is a win-win for Wells Fargo’s business and the economic advancement of the Hispanic community.

“If you’re the largest mortgage lender — or any mortgage lender — in the country, and you don’t have a focus on this segment,” he said, “you’re making a huge mistake.”

Helping Hispanic entrepreneurs succeed

On the business lending side, Sloan highlighted the company’s efforts to better serve Hispanic entrepreneurs and midsize business owners by establishing a diverse segments group. He noted data showing high rates of small business formation in the Hispanic population — far exceeding the national average — especially among Hispanic women and millennials.

“You have to look at the data, where small businesses are really being created,” he said. “And you have to put your folks across the table from these entrepreneurs to help them succeed. That’s where the opportunities are.”

The company has also poured resources into providing financial education that will help aspiring Hispanic entrepreneurs and others to succeed in the business world, Sloan said.

“We have so many successful entrepreneurs, or soon-to-be-successful entrepreneurs out there, but they don’t have the (necessary) skills,” he said. “They have a great idea, they have lots of energy, and they have the willingness to put in the hard work to succeed, but they don’t necessarily have the background. So part of what we are doing is investing tens of millions of dollars in financial education focused on entrepreneurs to make sure they have the skills to take their idea and make it a success,” Sloan added. “You have to be focused from a segment standpoint, and you have to make the investment to help these entrepreneurs succeed.”

When asked why, of all the major banks, Wells Fargo expanded its market presence in regions near the U.S. borders, which have a high concentration of Hispanics, Sloan said it made business sense.

“One of the reasons is because that’s where our customers are. That’s where the growth is,” he said. “It is a matter of using the data and looking at the fastest-growing geographies and segments in the country. And frequently, they’re on the borders. So we want to make sure we have the right consumer strategy there, and also the small business and middle market business strategy. We want to make sure we have the right people there that speak the language or have relationships in the market. It makes all the sense in the world.”