Though it had little impact on the bank’s bottom line, a phony accounts scandal dominated 2016 for Wells Fargo, which continues to deal with the costs and fallout stemming from its aggressive sales tactics. (The company paid a $185 million fine and fired more than 5,000 employees who were found to have opened as many as 2 million unauthorized accounts for consumers. Former CEO John Stumpf also resigned in the wake of the scandal, replaced by company COO Tim Sloan.) Still, Wells Fargo grew sales almost 5% in 2016 as higher interest rates also benefited the bank, which is America’s largest retail mortgage and auto lender, with a larger loan portfolio than any of its U.S. peers. Despite the regulatory penalties, the bank’s profits fell just about 4% last year, preserving its place among the most profitable companies in the Fortune 500. Wells Fargo also recently announced plants to close more than 400 branches, following the rest of the industry’s shift away from brick-and-mortar banking in order to boost earnings.
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