Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wells Fargo Bankers Answer Criticism of Lending Practices

Back in the darkest days of the economic crisis, few people had anything good to say about the nation's biggest banks, least of all small-business owners. The big banks took federal bailout money, if in some cases reluctantly, and then faced accusations of being stingy with all of that capital. Even some business owners with longstanding banking relationships reported difficulty getting new loans. Others claimed their banks had dropped them altogether.

Among the institutions that took criticism was Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest United States bank and the biggest lender to small businesses. But Marc Bernstein and Douglas Case, the bank's two top executives for small-business lending, say the criticism was misplaced. In 2010, the bank made $14.9 billion in new loans to small companies, "just shy," as Mr. Case put it, of a $16 billion goal for the year but more than the $14.5 billion it lent in 2009. In the first quarter of this year, the bank lent $3.7 billion, a 27 percent increase over the first quarter of 2010.



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