The 2004 report that Wells Fargo chose to ignore
- Author: Zachary Reyes Apr 13, 2017,
Apr 13, 2017, 17:41
"It was common to blame employees who violated Wells Fargo's rules without analyzing what caused or motivated them to do so".
An attorney for Stumpf declined to comment on the report.
Stumpf told Congress last September that he is "fully accountable for all unethical sales practices" and acknowledged he should have done "more sooner" to address this. Tolstedt's attorney was defiant.
"While we have already made significant progress in making things right with customers and addressing issues, including several issues identified in the investigation, the board's comprehensive findings provide another important opportunity to learn from our mistakes and take action to improve the way we operate, serve customers, and lead our team members", said Wells Fargo CEO and President Tim Sloan. "A full and fair examination of the facts will produce a different conclusion".
Wells Fargo said in response that it "cannot quantify with any degree of confidence... how many team members' employments were terminated exclusively for not meeting sales goals". The $28 million that the board is taking back from Stumpf - the proceeds of a 2013 equity grant - will be deducted from his retirement plan payouts, Sanger said.
"I don't think this is a chapter that is over with".
Wells Fargo admitted previous year that it had fired 5,300 employees between 2011 and 2016 for opening fake accounts. In 2002, Stumpf knew about a problem in Colorado where employees were terminated for issuing debit cards without customer consent. But Monday's report indicates that additional employees were fired for similar activity years earlier.
The board's law firm is still looking into reports that the bank retaliated against some former employees who tried to blow the whistle on its wrongdoing.
Rather than admitting the flaws in the sales model, community banking head Carrie Tolstedt and others found it "convenient instead to blame the problem of low quality and unauthorized accounts and other employee misconduct on individual wrongdoers and poor management in the field", the report found. Despite that, the goals got even higher, and so did firings and resignations when the goals could not be met.
One branch manager had a teenage daughter with 24 accounts, an adult daughter with 18 accounts, a husband with 21 accounts, a brother with 14 accounts and a father with 4 accounts. However, Sloan said that the bank was still reviewing records and some management has been fired in recent months.
Wells Fargo gave managers wide latitude to run their divisions.
Tolstedt was "scared to death" that changes would hamper sales growth, the report found. But when that figure was revealed, it was the first time that the board of directors had heard the sales practices problems were of such a large size and scope.
"The board's goals in conducting the investigation were to understand the root causes of improper sales practices in the community bank, to identify remedial actions to ensure these issues can never be repeated, and to help rebuild the trust customers place in the bank", the board said. "Tolstedt effectively challenged and resisted scrutiny both from within and outside the community bank".
The Comptroller of the Currency's Office is now investigating the sales cultures at each of the large banks, with that investigation expected to last at least through the summer. For years, the bank's management would say it doesn't have branches; it has "stores". And Stumpf was too slow to investigate and did not appreciate the seriousness of the reputational damage to the bank, it added.
Last month, the board voted to cancel Strother's and several other executives' cash bonuses and to slash their stock bonuses by 50 percent.
The bank said it contracted with a third party to do a survey of 22,700 employees who quit in the four-year period.
The bank has ditched the sales goals and spent more than $3 million reimbursing thousands of customers who were charged fees for accounts they didn't authorize.