Banks gave wealthier customers ‘concierge treatment’ for pandemic help

“All of a sudden the door opened,” she said. Her banker told her that she had reassembled Ms. Choplet’s file and that the bank would take her request manually. Ms Choplet said she called the branch manager who repeatedly told her no requests were accepted and asked if he knew they could be done by hand, in person. He said yes.

“I was talking directly to someone who looked me in the eye and said, ‘We’re not ready,'” she said. “He lied.” Ms Choplet did not get the loan because the money was depleted, but her banker will apply once new funds are released.

Santander spokesperson Laurie Kight said the bank couldn’t comment on specific customers. “Unfortunately, like other banks, we have not been able to assist every customer who has expressed an interest in obtaining a loan from the initial funds that Congress has allocated,” Ms. Kight said.

She added that Santander “was working tirelessly to expand our processing capacity to be ready to help as many clients as possible seek loans when additional funding becomes available.”

At the US Bank, bankers have been inundated with tens of thousands of inquiries, each requiring an employee to individually review and verify the borrower’s financial details. A group within the bank found a shortcut to the most lucrative business clients: they put together a dedicated team to handle the applications of these VIP clients. This team processed requests much faster than core employees could, according to a person familiar with the bank’s operations.

A spokesperson for the US bank declined to comment.

At First Horizon Bank, high net worth clients received personal assistance from loan officers. According to a spokesperson, only about half of the $ 1.6 billion the bank gave out under the program went to customers of small businesses, such as hair salons and restaurants. Of the 5,500 loans made by the bank, the spokeswoman said, 47% went to medium-sized private companies, a category that could include law firms.

“All of our clients received personal assistance,” said spokesperson Silvia Alvarez.

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