Interview: Wells Fargo’s Kevin Cole on how banking assistant ‘Fargo’ is more personalised than ever

Wells Fargo is rolling out updates to its virtual assistant, Fargo. The US lender grabbed headlines around the world when it first launched Fargo. The offering gives users a personalised experience to help simplify their finances and gives a holistic view of their financial health. The updated version of Fargo leans into the consumer demand to access essential information, like their finances, via their mobile devices. Moreover, it is a perfect real-world example of how to leverage AI to make Wells Fargo customers lives easier.

Fargo updates include

  • Spotlighting the unexpected, such as an increase in a recurring subscription or a spike in spending at a particular merchant. Customers will also have the option to cancel or pause subscriptions. That is timely as Americans are spending an average of $219 a month on subscription services according to C&R Research.
  • A spending digest delivers proactive push notifications to the customer about increases in spending with insights on which spending categories are seeing increases.
  • Simplified 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 recognising when a customer could achieve their goals faster by aligning extra cash to investment. Fargo analyses spending habits and shares proactive projections for anticipated balances in addition to offering insights on guidance on where to allocate deposits based on set financial goals.

Fargo’s AI-powered concierge-like experience

Kevin Cole, head of digital AI at Wells Fargo tells RBI that Fargo’s evolution is a testament to the bank’s continued push to offer consumers a personalised, digital-forward experience when it comes to managing their finances.

He tells RBI: “Fargo has brought a more simple and intuitive banking experience through its concierge-like experience. It helps customers meet their individual financial needs—especially with the dramatic surge in digital banking over the last few years and the demand for a full-service digital experience.

Using Fargo, customers can get answers to their everyday banking questions (for example ‘View my spending’ or ‘Search transactions’) and, rather than taking multiple manual steps to accomplish a task, they can ask Fargo to complete the task for them. Fargo greets users with a highly curated set of actionable tips and insights. This includes turning on/off debit cards, checking credit card limits, and searching for specific transactions.”

He says that the latest Fargo updates help customers stay in control of their finances without having to constantly monitor their bills and accounts. As for the very timely subscription facility, he says that overlooking recurring subscription payments is a major issue in the US. According to C&R Research, a whopping 42% of Americans admit to having stopped using a subscription service yet forgot that they were still paying for it.

He adds: “Fargo now shares an analysis of spending habits and flags irregular anticipated balances. Customers will receive a spending digest with proactive insights about increases in spending in specific categories to better understand their spending habits or changes in their financial activity.

Wells Fargo’s use of AI and machine learning enhance the customer experience

“When used thoughtfully and responsibly, AI can provide deep insight into our customers’ financial needs and goals, providing personalised services to give more customers the tools they need for financial success. Customers are using mobile banking now more than ever. We want to offer customers a “you know me” experience. With our focus on machine learning, we can better understand patterns from our customers’ habits, anticipate their future needs and ultimately enhance the value they get from banking with Wells Fargo.

“Our customers’ digital financial support network provides meaningful money conversations conveniently on their mobile devices. It helps to uplift our customers’ financial well-being by understanding their financial goals and provides the most convenient interactions to meet those goals.”

Over 5 million Wells Fargo m-banking users aged over 60

On segmentation, Cole says that when Wells Fargo launched Fargo to customers in 2023 it appreciated that younger generations preferred virtual assistance. However, he says that there has been significant growth in technology adoption among older generations.

“We have more than 5 million customers over the age of 60 using our mobile app. Wells Fargo designed Fargo so that anyone with a mobile device could use it easily however and whenever they wanted – no matter their age, goals, or financial status.”

“Interview: Wells Fargo’s Kevin Cole on how banking assistant ‘Fargo’ is more personalised than ever” was originally created and published by Retail Banker International, a GlobalData owned brand.

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