Multinational financial services provider Wells Fargo announced on Wednesday (3 October) that it is committing around $175m to the Greater Chicago Area “in the coming years”. A large part of this investment will go towards increasing the company’s retail branches from seven to “at least 30”.

Wells Fargo claims the expansion of branches will create around 200 job opportunities, and include locations in two historically underinvested neighbourhoods outside the downtown area. The company is keen to emphasise its charitable donations in the Chicago area over recent years, including $22m from its small business recovery fund to non-profits, “including those from historically marginalized communities.”

A cynic might note the recent scandals the bank has been embroiled in regarding discrimination against African Americans, including rejecting over half of black mortgage applicants and being forced to pay $7.8m in back pay for discriminating against African Americans in its hiring procedures.

The opening of new branches is certainly a good thing for those who are underserved by online banking methods, including the elderly, but this expansion will do little to counteract the general trend of closures by Wells Fargo and other major US banks.

Wells closed over 1,500 branches between June 2012 and June 2022, reducing its total to 4,786 nationally. This places it above Bank of America’s 3,905, but below Chase’s 4,819, according to Retail Banker International’s research.

The 200 jobs are also unlikely to put much of a dent in the reduced hirings of Wells Fargo, which are again in line with other major US banks. GlobalData intelligence showed a 50% decrease in job postings by September 2023 compared to the year before.

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