Monday, October 24, 2011

Wells Fargo tops list of small-business lenders

Wells Fargo & Co. might not earn perfect marks with its small-business customers - but the bank doled out more money in small-business loans than any other lender this year, new data from the U.S. Small Business Administration show.

The San Francisco bank, which bought Charlotte's Wachovia in 2008, approved more than $1.2 billion in SBA loans in the federal government's 2011 fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30. That's up nearly 40 percent from the year before, and enough to rank Wells Fargo No. 1 on the SBA's list of more than 2,700 U.S. lenders.

Wells ranked second by number of loans - about 3,140, up 27 percent from the year before - behind New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co.

"Small businesses create jobs, drive economic growth and are essential to our nation's recovery," David Rader, head of Wells' SBA lending division, said in a news release today.

Earlier this year, Wells Fargo announced it was the first lender to approve more than $1 billion in SBA 7(a) loans to small businesses in a federal fiscal year.

The latest ranking comes a few days after a J.D. Power and Associates study placed Wells Fargo and Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. at the bottom of a list of major U.S. banks in small-business customer satisfaction. The survey measured customer satisfaction based on factors from fees to problem resolution to customer relationships.

Bank of America ranked well below Wells Fargo in 2011 SBA lending, placing 54th in dollars and 28th by number of loans issued. Still, that outpaced the majority of banks on the list.

Bank of America officials have said they're ramping up small-business lending, with plans to hire 1,000 small-business bankers by early 2012.

Spokesman Don Vecchiarello said last week the bank continues to improve its service, having recently launched new processes to help the bank capture and respond to customer issues and expanded the number of employees responding to customer issues across the business.


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