Most kids want to be an astronaut or a doctor when they grow up. For Patty Juarez, the dream was to be a banker. After graduating with a degree in finance and accounting, Juarez went straight into her dream world.
“It’s been a wonderful journey,” she told BELatina in an exclusive interview. “Through it all, I’ve been able to help a lot of business owners […] and my Latino community.”
Juarez currently serves as head of Diverse Segments creating, developing, and executing our Diverse Segments strategy for Commercial Banking.
Juarez earned her B.B.A. in business with an emphasis in accounting from the University of California, Berkeley, and her M.B.A. from St. Mary’s College of California in Moraga. She subsequently joined Wells Fargo in 1995 as a financial analyst and completed the bank’s credit management training program in 1998.
Juarez joined the Santa Clara office, where she focused on technology clients, was promoted to credit officer, and held this position until she became regional vice president of the North Orange County office in 2010.
All of her years of experience allowed Juarez to understand firsthand the financial system and how the lack of financial education is one of the first obstacles to growth and tapping into the true potential of the Latino community.
In her experience as a speaker, Juarez realized how the first generations, raised in predominantly “cash-only” households, lacked basic knowledge of credit and budgeting, just to name a few.
“It dawned on me: this is a real need. Folks really need to understand the dynamics of their credit because it is so important as it provides the foundation of your credit background,” Juarez explained. “If you do it well, you’ll be eligible for [financial products].”
In light of this need, Wells Fargo and Operation HOPE, Inc., a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the financial empowerment of underserved communities, have joined forces to accelerate financial inclusion and access to education.
The new HOPE Inside centers will be staffed with Operation HOPE financial coaches to help community members achieve their financial goals through financial education workshops and free one-on-one counseling.
The first HOPE Inside centers will launch in the Atlanta, Houston, and Oakland markets in April. By the end of 2022, HOPE Inside centers will expand to Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Newark, N.J., Camden, N.J., Phoenix, and Gallup, N.M.
“At Wells Fargo, we recognize that millions of people out there have no banking account, which puts them immediately at a disadvantage,” Juarez explained. “Our goal is to help reduce the number of unbanked households, which are sadly in three communities: our Latino community, our Native American community, and our African-American community.”
Juarez explained how the HOPE centers will offer in-person and online seminars to educate and empower our communities.
“In time, I think we’re going to redesign our branches to become financial health centers where people can come in and get the advice that they need,” she concluded.