How does the banking and borrowing climate look in West End Atlanta post Fed rate hike?

Borrowing may be getting a little more expensive in the West End, assuming you are a Wells Fargo customer.

In response to an increase by the Federal Reserve System of its target for interbank overnight lending rates, Wells Fargo today announced that it is raising its prime lending rate from 6.25% to 7.00%.

Another large national bank serving the West End, Bank of America, has not yet announced an increase in its prime lending rate. Regional bank, Fifth Third Bank announced effective today (2 November 2022) that it was also raising its prime lending rate to 7.00%.

Wells Fargo’s new rate takes effect on 3 November 2022.

According to a report by MSN, employees of Wells Fargo’s loan origination business have been bracing for the continuation of job cuts that started last April. Loan origination is reportedly down 90% since pre-pandemic, with 18,000 loan applications currently in the pipeline.

Up until three years ago, Wells Fargo had two branches in the West End, within no more than two blocks. One branch has since closed, although an automatic teller machine is maintained at the old site.

JP Morgan Chase exited the West End a decade or so ago.

One could argue that with the advent of online banking, most retail customers never enter a bank lobby. A cousin of mine has not set foot in a bank lobby in ten years. I myself am old fashioned and prefer engage bank personnel in person. As a former teller, walking around in a branch still feels second nature to me.

From a commercial aspect, restaurants, printshops, other small businesses benefit from having within driving or walking distance a bank with which they can make deposits or discuss short term loans. In my opinion, while branch banking seems old fashioned, branch presence signals the economic vitality of a community.

Alton Drew

2 November 2022