Wells Fargo Advisors has a respected history of providing expert financial advice, but perhaps its lesser-known legacy is just as noteworthy: contributing to the community. “Our primary focus as a company is to create better outcomes for our clients,” David Kowach, the president and head of Wells Fargo Advisors, says. “We have a 130-year history, and [being located] in St. Louis extends to creating better outcomes for the city. The St. Louis area is critical to our success. We’ve got a responsibility to do our part to make it a better place.”
As part of that mission, the company has made tremendous donations through partnerships with numerous local organizations, including Harris-Stowe State University, Gateway Greening and United Way. It also gives back on an individual level through multiple volunteer initiatives. “Last year this firm and its team members gave away $8.6 million to support the community that supports us,” Kowach notes. “Last year, our team members spent 25,000 trackable hours giving back. We support economic expansion in the region through things like Forest Park Forever and the Regional Arts Commission. There’s so much we can do to make our city better.”
Recently the company announced it is investing another $5 million in strengthening the region through dozens of nonprofits working to improve lives.
Kowach describes how the financial firm determines the needs of the city. “We’ve got bold goals in terms of how we can support and serve the community, divided into four areas: diversity and social inclusion, economic empowerment, environmental sustainability and elder financial protection,” he explains. “As part of that, we promote philanthropic organizations that really make this city a better place. Think about the work we’re doing with the Regional Arts Commission through a program that challenges young minds to embrace difference.”
Addressing those needs can be daunting, but Wells Fargo Advisors meets the challenge head-on by recognizing shifts in the community. “A lot of art programs are being cut from schools,” Kowach comments. “We’ve got to step in and decrease that void. We promote great cultural gems, like Jazz St. Louis, COCA and The Muny. We worked with United Way on financial education with six [local, underprivileged] schools. We helped 300 families open college savings accounts, which may not seem a massive change – but to them, it was huge.”
After moving to St. Louis a decade ago, Kowach was struck by the widespread culture of reinvesting in the community — a natural motivation for St. Louisans. “As somebody who has had the experience of living in different places, I recognize St. Louis is a special place,” he says. “It’s a community that has such great assets. When I came here, I saw it wasn’t just Wells Fargo Advisors wanting to do more. There’s an energy in the atmosphere of people wanting to give back. It’s part of corporate cultures; it’s part of family cultures. And it is central to who we are as a company.”