Friday, January 11, 2019

Back at Wells Fargo

Back at Wells Fargo

I am thrilled to be back at Wells Fargo consulting with great people in the Innovation Group. We are developing a Disability Financial Management System. The advanced technology, the dedicated personnel, the financial advisors, and the marketing abilities that Wells Fargo offers are all very impressive and exciting to work with.

About a year ago, I pitched the idea to some friends at Wells Fargo. I had recently began receiving funding from the California Regional Center for my personal care attendants. For decades, Denise and I spent many thousands of dollars annually for personal assistant services. It wasn't until one of my attendants ask me why I wasn't receiving services from the Regional Center did I realize that people with developmental disabilities can receive personal assistant services paid for regardless of income or assets. I have always been well connected with the Disability Community. If I didn't realize this benefit was available to me, imagine how unaware the general public must be of the many products and services that are available to them. I reasoned that only a big financial institution had the resources to implement a comprehensive Disability Finance Knowledge-Base and effectively disseminate disability related financial information and advice to the public.

The Innovation Group spent the last 3 months interviewing team members and customers collecting their perspectives as to what their disability related financial needs are and which Wells Fargo product and services can be enhanced to better meet these needs. These interviews confirmed that customers and prospective customers with disabilities and their support networks have unique needs that are not currently met by WF products and services. We heard that programs that provide financial assistance to offset the high cost of living with a disability can be difficult to navigate resulting in funds and resources not being received or maximized. Many people with disabilities do not work because of fear of losing benefits they need. We were told that accessing resources and financial support available while staying within guidelines to avoid interruption of benefits is confusing and time consuming. Budget management on a “fixed income,” much less planning for the future for needed areas like estate planning is demanding, especially without tools and guidance. Many customers with disabilities and their support networks are unaware that WF can help them with financial management and financial planning. Customers are unaware that there are WF products that would be effective in specific financial stages, such as educational loans for special education, home loans for modifications, or assistive technology (equipment) loans.

For me, the most exciting thing about being back at Wells Fargo is realizing that combining artificial intelligence,(AI), a search engine, automation and human experiences, a truly comprehensive Disability Finance Knowledge-Base can be implemented and kept current. Combining AI, natural language processing, the knowledge-base and automation, a system can be developed to give people with disabilities and our support network the information and advice we need for financial success.,
Since I retired from Wells Fargo, they implemented wellsfargocommunity.com – a website where anyone can ask questions pertaining to any financial matters. There are discussion groups as well as a knowledge-base. A Disability Related Financial discussion group is being considered. The Disability Finance Knowledge-Base will also be added. Wells Fargo also implemented a Financial Health Call Center where community members are invited to call to get individualized advice from professional financial advisors. Wells Fargo is considering implementing a separate call queue where financial advisors specializing in disability-related financial matters can be reached.

I remain committed to seeing that Social Security change its archaic definition of disability as the inability to work. All people should have access to the products and services they need. It will take time and lots of advocacy to reach this goal. Meanwhile, it is exciting and uplifting to see how much modern technology and dedicated people can do to further people's financial success.
Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Go! Go! Go!