When news of Wells Fargo's phony account scandal first broke, the bank, analysts, and even investors thought it wouldn't dent earnings.
But as the furor surrounding the opening of some 2 million deposit and credit card accounts without consumer knowledge at Wells Fargo continued to mount, the mega-bank's reputation began to plummet—and more than a few customers began jumping off the wagon. As a result, Wells could lose as much as $212 billion in deposits and $8 billion in revenue over the next year and a half, according to a study done by consulting firm cg42.
Those would be significant drops even for Wells Fargo (wfc), the U.S.'s second largest bank by market value. The drop would represent an 17% decrease in deposits, and a 9% drop off compared to its 2015 revenue. The bank's deposits totaled $1.28 billion through the end of June, and revenue of $85.1 billion for 2015.
"The fallout from Wells Fargo’s fraudulent sales practices has been significant: the scandal has been playing out on the news for weeks, the bank has been fined millions of dollars, and thousands of employees—including its CEO—have lost their jobs," wrote researchers at cg42 in the study, which was released on Monday. "But as our study reveals, the full financial impact of the scandal is yet to be felt. . .the fallout from the scandal will impact the bank’s bottom line for years to come."
The firm conducted the study between Oct. 18 to Oct. 20, surveying 1,000 Wells Fargo primary customers, and 500 customers from other top U.S. retail banks including Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase.
In the worst case scenario, the study found that some 30% of Wells Fargo's customers may actively explore other options.
That's because while just 3% of Wells Fargo's customers were actually affected by the scandal, public opinion regarding the bank has fallen dramatically, leading some 14% of customers to say they have already decided to bank elsewhere. The losses could also be deeper, since the survey doesn't take into account small business accounts. The scandal, which allegedly occurred between 2011 and 2015, also affected some 10,000 small businesses.
In a bid to contain the fallout from the scandal, CEO John Stumpf was forced to resign after already agreeing to give up over $40 million in unvested stock. Now the bank, helmed by Tim Sloan, is struggling to prove to investors and consumers alike that it's trustworthy.
In the most recent quarter, the bank revealed that sales had grown 2% to $22.3 billion compared to a year earlier, while deposits also rose by $30.4 billion compared to the quarter earlier, showing that the scandal had little to no effect on the company's earnings. Profits though fell slightly by 2% to $5.6 billion compared to a year earlier. And new account openings slowed.