A friend from my days at Alamo, then Advantage Rent-A-Car, used to visit me at the branch. I’ll leave his name out as he was, still is, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I respect him for his sobriety; I only mention that as it did allow me to gain the confidence of a Wells Fargo financial adviser he knew from the program. Her name was Marcia, and I’ll launch into her revelations in a moment, but first let me cover something else.
Most of us would think a depository bank likes having lots of … deposits. Deposits, right, as in CD’s, savings accounts, checking accounts?
Not so, at least in the way of CD’s.
Most Reno seniors, the customers at our branch in the northwest, (managed by Shirley Echols) had lots of older folks with CD deposits. And this is because of the stable interest. There is a magic number for interest, as Shirley explained during a staff meeting.
“Five percent,” she said. “We have tons of CD accounts locked in at that amount. Wells is offering a savings account at five percent plus.”
Janie and I exchanged looks.
“So,” Jane began, “what are we supposed to do?”
Shirley blinked, then dove into her pitch. “We’re going to convince them that the savings account is a better deal, that they won’t have to accept an early withdrawal penalty if they want their money. Also, they get a little bit more interest.”
Just a fraction, I thought.
I spoke up. “Most of these folks don’t need the money. They like it sitting there and getting checks for the interest.”
“That’s going to change,” Shirley countered.
“So, is this a sales number they’re gonna track?” I asked.
“Yes. I’ll show you two how to run a report of the CD accounts coming up for renewal. Call the people, get them to come in so you can explain the savings account advantage.”
Meeting over. Jane and I plopped at our desks, filled our brains with the new information. Later in the day I spoke to Marcia.
Marcia was a solid gal, not in the TV Mom way that Janie was, but in the fact that she had numerous certifications in the financial field. She was always outside grabbing a smoke, and since she was in AA, I knew she’d bent an elbow. Marcia gave you the dope, straight, no chaser.
“I can’t stay here,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s tough. What’s going on?”
“I’m cleaning up too many things I didn’t cause. Wells went on a tear with fixed annuities, offered a good bonus rate for the first year. Then they crashed it. People weren’t told, and now they’re screaming at me. Not even my clients.”
I told her about the account mess Janie and I were stuck with, also the push for changing CDs to savings accounts.
“CDs are a liability. The interest is considered a loss because it’s guaranteed. Savings accounts aren’t viewed that way. What do you think will happen to the rate after those people bail on their CDs?” she asked.
“You don’t have to tell me,” I answered. “And that’ll be my mess.”
“Exactly,” said Marcia. She offered me a smoke, and I lit it.
“Good luck to us,” I told her.
“Not me,” she said. “I’m outta here.”
Another cigarette, another day. I went to my desk and tried to figure out a noble way through this mess. I couldn’t see one, really. I looked at the calender. I’d been in the hospital for my wife’s cancer treatment a few weeks ago. How long before the tumor flared up, compressed her bile duct and I’d have to take off again? How long till another trip? How long could I make this job work? How long anything?
Later in the afternoon Shirley had a meeting with district manager Joni Rose. I was looking at the CD report when Jane sat down. She appeared grim.
“Wazzup?” I asked.
“Tonster, you won’t believe what I found in the basement?”
The Wells’ basement looked like a garage sale for bankers. I have to admit, it fascinated me. A few old chairs that looked like they’d belonged to old phone company telephone operators. Dinged up file cabinets, machines from the early days of electronics. Dunno why, I’ve always been a sucker for junk.
Janie steered to to a dark corner in the back. Two cardboard boxes were crammed with documents. “Take a look,” she said.
So I did. I read through some of the stuff, checked the dates.
“Holy shit. This is the paperwork from all the bogus stuff that Alex and Janelle opened up.
“Right,” said Janie.
“They never sent the stuff in. Best way to avoid getting caught.”
“What should we do?” asked Jane.
I didn’t hear her. I was thinking of a dear woman, her son, now my step-son. “Let me think on it,” I said.