Branch president: New name, same bank

Norwest now officially Wells Fargo

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The biggest change Norwest customers will see now that their bank has merged with Wells Fargo are the new red and yellow signs that went up Friday, the local branch president said.

The Wells Fargo-Norwest merger was actually completed in November of 1998, but is just now being seen in the signs outside former Norwest banks, like the one at Third Street and Lincoln Avenue in Steamboat Springs. Interestingly, it was Norwest that bought out Wells Fargo but Norwest accepted the name change, said Thomas Hopp, president of the erstwhile Norwest branch downtown.

"This is part of the reason why customers will see so little change because Norwest was the surviving company, and managed to keep most things in tact," he explained.

The merger of equals Norwest and Wells Fargo are almost identical in size will offer customers more banking opportunities and convenience, Hopp said.

"This merger has given Norwest the opportunity to expand its presence into some of the fastest growing states," Hopp said. "As of today, we are in eight of the 10 fastest growing states in the country."

The new organization now has 6,000 ATMs in 22 states nationwide. All banking, deposits, etc. can be made from any one of these locations, with no charge to the customer, he said.

"Wells Fargo was also at the forefront of new technology revolution in electronic banking, so now we have the added benefit of all their experience," Hopp said. "They were also the single largest banking organization that provided banking in grocery stores; although we have had one, we now have the benefit of their experience in this respect as well."

All Wells-Fargo staff previously Norwest staff have been trained in the new systems, and the conversions already have occurred.

"That means the changeover should be pretty transparent to the customer," Hopp said. "It will be a smooth transition, and the customer does not need to worry about delays or making any new changes, personally other than taking advantage of the new opportunities."

Customers can continue using their Norwest checks, debit and credit cards, until they normally reorder checks or renew their cards.

"The old Wells Fargo has brought us many new methods of banking. Most have already been implemented, but some like the new business online banking that went in to effect on May 15 will continue to arise as new technology is developed," Hopp said. "Customers can expect to see such ongoing changes occur indefinitely. The objective is to let customers do banking the way they want to."

To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4205 or e-mail bnadzam@amigo.net

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