The new branch president at the Mountain Village branch of Wells Fargo Bank grew up in Aspen.
Chris Cox says that it was the opportunity to return to living in a ski town that attracted him to the job here. Likewise, it may be his native familiarity with mountain resorts that made him a good candidate for the job.
Perhaps mindful that mountain resorts have a narrowly based economy – “basically real estate and recreation,” he observes – he is not the most bullish of bankers.
Gazing out at the global, national and local economy, “I think we’re in for a multiple year correction. We’re seeing a transformational change in the economy.”
And yet, Cox says that Wells Fargo is well positioned to ride out the storm. What’s more, money is available at Wells Fargo for business loans, and notably equipment loans, and even for mortgages.
“In the last two months we’ve done several significant mortgages,” he says.
Another service Wells Fargo can provide, Cox says, and which he is focused on, is investment management, or personal banking, services that have been enhanced at Wells Fargo since its merger with Wachovia.
And like other local banks, he is focused on bringing in deposits, an activity that has been producing success, he says, due to a “flight to quality.” Wells Fargo, Cox says, is rightly perceived as one of the nation’s most stable big banks.
Although his position here is his first formal job in community banking, Cox was first exposed to community banking as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. There, he saw the benefits of micro-lending up close. The key, he believes, is staying close to the bank’s customers and maintaining a high level of customer service.
After his time in the Peace Corps, Cox worked for eight years in New York City, albeit not directly on Wall Street. Instead, he helped manage a wealthy family’s investments. He recalls being pitched a lot of the exotic investments, like credit- default swaps, that have recently become notorious, but never was involved with them.
“The people selling those investments didn’t understand them,” Cox said.
Since his arrival in the community on Sept. 1, Cox, 40, who lives in Mountain Village, has been getting to know and understand local businesses, and evaluating how Wells Fargo can be of service.
“Wells Fargo has such a broad range of services that we are not so much a bank as a financial services company,” Cox said.