Wells Rolls Out Simplified Checking Account Disclosures

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Wells Fargo (WFC) is the latest of the big banks to unveil simpler checking account disclosures for customers, following rollouts by JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Regions (RF) and TD Bank (TD) that started late last year.

The company posted the simplified disclosures online for its California customers in March, and expanded the disclosures for all its accounts nationwide in May, says Erin Constantine, a senior vice president with the deposit products group.

"We thought that a simplified form that would highlight some of the most important parts of their checking account and some of the fees they may run across in a concise and easy to understand format would be a great step," said Constantine in an interview Friday.

Constantine says the bank partially based its three-page disclosures on a model disclosure box promoted by Pew Trusts.

The new disclosures detail monthly service, ATM, overdraft and other fees in concise, plain language and briefly describe how deposits and withdrawals are processed.

"Our form is close to the Pew template, but it has evolved to what we need to provide customers with information we thought was important," she says.

Going forward, the bank plans to solicit feedback on the disclosures from bankers, customers and Pew, Constantine says.

Susan Weinstock, project director for Pew Trust's Safe Checking in the Electronic Age Project, adds that she expects more banks to follow JPMorgan, Wells and others in providing simpler disclosures to customers.

"They know this is helpful to customers to allow them to understand their accounts," she says. Weinstock declined to discuss any work with Wells on the bank's disclosures.

The bank will also be rolling out simplified Spanish-language disclosures in July, according to Constantine.

"We know that many customers speak English as a second language," she says. "We find a lot of customers like to have it in English and Spanish, especially written, so they can really understand all terms and price points."

Consumer website mybanktracker.com first reported Wells' new disclosures on Thursday.

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