Policy Forum

Culture matters, Wells Fargo bankers say

Adel El-Huni and Anees Khatoon are two Wells Fargo mortgage officers who are boosting efforts to close the housing gap.
Adel El-Huni and Anees Khatoon are two Wells Fargo mortgage officers who are boosting efforts to close the housing gap.

Adel El-Huni, Mortgage Consultant for Wells Fargo Emerging Markets Program, is "looking to help people make their dreams come true. This is less about a transaction and more about the relationship," said El-Huni.

A native of Libya, and a former resident of Spain, El-Huni uses his background to promote awareness of the multicultural nature of the marketplace. "There's an effort to hire people who reflect the communities that they serve. Wells Fargo and other lenders are not allowed to discriminate against customers but also it makes good business sense
I'm fortunate in that I speak Spanish fluently and I speak Arabic. I reflect and serve the diversity of our community, in the branch on Lake Street. Our branch is like a bazaar in that there's so many cultures," said El-Huni.

"I'm from India," said Khatoon. "I've been living in this country for fifteen years. I've been with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage for thirteen years. So I'm happy with the company that I'm working with. Wells Fargo has given me all kinds of training. Wells Fargo does provide all the tools to get you where you need to be," she said. Khatoon asserts that job opportunities in the mortgage and finance field are available. "They would love to hire people from our communities. I serve 80% of the Indian community," she said. Khatoon helps get other East Indians hired, and helps those who come to her as a trusted advisor in their quest to become new homeowners. "People have the comfort level to meet with a lender of the same color or same culture. So if there is anyone seeking employment, Wells Fargo always has their doors open," she said.

"I ask people, 'Why don't you come work with us?' But I think also the main thing besides getting a job within Wells Fargo and other organizations is networking. You slowly meet different people, especially in the mortgage industry, even if you start at the bank with a small position . . . some people get too prideful, like I came and got a college education and . . . why should I take this position? But then I said, just put your foot in and slowly build a career," said El-Huni.

Al McFarlane asked Khatoon about the challenges that consumers face that hinder potential wealth creation. "Well, what I have seen in my career is people in their mind, they think 'well I just can't . . . I'm not qualified to buy a home,'" she responded. "That is totally incorrect. You need to meet with the right person who can find out whether you can qualify. If you're not ready now, we'll help you and tell you what needs to be done to get you where you want to be. So please come talk to us . . . getting information is not costing you any money. It's free. We can pass it on and give it to you and get you ready [for] the next stage," she said.

Khatoon said there are homeownership opportunities for low to middle income households, many of whom overlook the possibility of purchasing a home assuming they don't have enough income. "Wells Fargo Community Development Program has a two percent down payment program with no mortgage insurance. If you're renting now and you want to keep the payment the same, a little higher, or a little less, that program fits the perfect need of that family. If you're buying in the city of Minneapolis or St. Paul, there is no income limit, but there is a loan amount limit of $204,000. If you're buying in the suburbs of the Twin Cities, there is no price limit, but there is an income limitation of $62,400," said Khatoon. "Someone who makes $62,000 can qualify for a house that has a value of $200,000

May 15, 2006
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