Wells Fargo’s chief executive apologized to his bank’s customers on Tuesday, saying that “all levels of management feel responsible” over the lender’s fraud scandal that allegedly involved thousands of employees opening millions of unauthorized accounts.
At the same time, John Stumpf did not assign blame to specific managers and told CNBC in an interview he does not plan to step down.
“We are sorry. We deeply regret any situation where a customer got a product they did not request,” he told Jim Cramer. “There is nothing in our culture, nothing in our vision and values that would support that. It’s just the opposite.”
Three regulators fined Wells Fargo (WFC) $185 million over the allegations last week, after which the bank announced it had fired about 5,300 employees over the matter and told some staffers to temporarily stop cross-selling to customers. Facing criticism for what many had called overaggressive sales targets, the company also said it would eliminate all product sales goals for its retail bankers starting next year.
Stumpf, who has been called to testify before a Senate panel next Tuesday, told the press that “there was no incentive to do bad things” at his bank, and that of the company’s approximately 100,000 employees, “the vast majority do the right thing.”
“Every year, on average for the last 5 years, 1,000 did not do the right thing,” he said. “But that’s still 1,000 too many.”
The CEO did not say whether back pay for Carrie Tolstedt, the Wells Fargo executive who oversaw the unit of the unauthorized accounts, would be adjusted based on “clawback” provisions. Fortune reported that Tolstedt recently retired from the bank with a $124.6 million payday.
“To the extent that’s a consideration,” said Stumpf. “We have a board process.”
While the chief executive said he was “responsible” for the bank running off track from its values, “I think the best thing I could do right now is lead this company, and lead this company forward,” he added.