A banking concierge in your pocket: Inside Wells Fargo’s digital-first reinvention
Head of Digital for Consumer and Wealth & Investment Management, Wells Fargo
The Fargo virtual assistant uses AI and cloud to support meaningful financial conversations anytime, anywhere
There are more than 6.6 billion smartphones in the world, treasured tools that have become as valuable and useful as our wallets — sometimes more so. The vast majority of consumers have embraced and come to appreciate the nudge that notifies them when they should plan to leave 10 minutes earlier for their commute because traffic is building up ahead. They have come to expect the added convenience of using an app to order a coffee without having to stand in line.
At Wells Fargo, we want to bring the same smart, intuitive experience to banking. We want to be with our customers at all times, ready when they need us, seamlessly working in the background to empower them to bank smarter. Meet Fargo.
Fargo is our new virtual assistant, set to debut early next year in the Wells Fargo mobile app. Fargo will provide customers a convenient and intuitive banking experience by leveraging Google Cloud’s artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities and technology to enhance customer engagement. For example, customers will be able to quickly turn debit cards on or off and check credit limits; search for specific transactions by date, amount, or type; and ask Fargo—in plain language—for help with most of their banking needs, instead of hunting for the answer on their own.
Digital experiences are becoming a priority not only in financial services but in virtually every industry. Roughly two thirds (65%) of Millennials and Gen Z consumers surveyed by Ipsos on behalf of Walls Fargo said they prefer to use a virtual assistant for customer service needs versus a phone conversation with a representative. We’re eager to meet these consumers where they are because it delivers a better experience for them and better business for us — not only through better service but also deeper insights and greater efficiency.
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As Fargo evolves, it will take a more proactive role in guiding customers toward financial wellness, leveraging predictive analytics to enable meaningful conversations that learn and adapt to each individual customer. Fargo will greet users with a highly curated set of actionable tips and insights, including:
Spotlighting the unexpected, such as an increase in a recurring subscription or a spike in spending at a particular merchant.
Simplifying budgeting, by calculating how much someone can safely spend, while still covering their bills and hitting their savings targets.
Surfacing smart money moves, like identifying how much a customer could save by consolidating debt or recognizing when a customer could achieve their goals faster by aligning extra cash to investments.
It's like having a financial assistant in your pocket. Fargo will be there, ready to help wherever you need it — and even sometimes when you don't realize you need help, like with overspending or fraud alerts.
Partnerships that power innovation for customers
The digital revolution has empowered consumers with more choice than ever before, often available to them just a download or click away. There’s bounty in all that choice, but also the potential for confusion, especially at moments of economic uncertainty like the current one.
We want to help our customers make the right choices with the most straightforward products, which is why we're more motivated than ever to support their financial journeys. We want to support and promote meaningful money conversations conveniently from their mobile device. It's more than just dollars and cents; it's about uplifting our customers’ emotional and financial wellbeing by understanding their financial goals and providing the most convenient interactions to meet those goals.
Our partnership with Google Cloud allows Wells Fargo to tap into Google's world-class AI capabilities, while the platform architecture also keeps Wells Fargo customer data secure and private.
Our goal is to enable, empower, and — via Fargo — engage with our customers as we serve them along their financial journey and through their important milestones.
Delivering on digital to meet customers where they are
We’ve reached the tipping point for the way customers want to manage their money, with digital adoption growing at an unprecedented rate. Our customers live on their mobile devices, accomplishing every task and planning their next life moments all via digital. They expect their banking app to mirror the rest of their daily, digital lifestyle.
In the Iposos survey of Millenial and Gen Z consumers, most respondents (84%) who have used virtual assistants reported a favorable experience, and 70% cited “saving time” as a top benefit. About half who have used a virtual assistant agree that they prefer the virtual assistant for some financial matters that would be embarrassing to discuss with a person.
These trends are a big part of why, for banks and businesses of all kinds, innovation has become an imperative. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to delight our customers, especially our newest ones, in an increasingly crowded and competitive digital marketplace.
Fargo is part of Wells Fargo’s multiyear strategy to become digital-first and reinvent personal finance. To meet our customers' constantly evolving needs, we launched a totally rebuilt mobile app earlier this year that offers a more modern look and feel, with a simpler and more intuitive user experience. Included in the upgraded app is a relaunch of the Intuitive Investor, our digitally automated investing platform. Intuitive Investor now offers a $500 account opening minimum, down from $5,000, a simplified account opening process, and a sustainability-focused portfolio option.
Since we launched the rebuilt app, the industry has taken notice of Wells Fargo’s reemergence as a digital leader. In its 2022 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study, J.D. Power ranked Wells Fargo No. 3 — a significant climb from the previous year’s list — citing how the “complete redesign of the visual language and page layouts enhance the Wells Fargo mobile app experience.”It’s just one of the many ways we continue to evolve our bank with digital platforms and virtual tools built on the cloud. If you want to learn more about what it takes to reimagine your digital business to meet the needs of increasingly discerning and decisive customers, see what our head of strategy for digital platforms told Forbes about the future of personal finance. You can also read more about our work with Google Cloud in today’s announcement of our deepening partnership.