Wells Fargo’s CEO Would Make Over $100 Million Even if He Was Fired for Phony Accounts
Some, including fervent Wall Street critic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for the CEO of Wells Fargo to resign in light of its phony account scandal.
But even if CEO John Stumpf were fired, he still stands to walk away from the bank with at least $102.7 million. That’s slightly more than five times what he got paid in 2015, when people though he was doing a good job, and not overseeing one of the most widespread frauds in banking history.
And he could make even more. If Stumpf retires before Wells Fargo’s board of directors decides he needs to go, the CEO would also hang onto $25.2 million worth of unvested stock and options that could pay out for years to come.
Equilar crunched the Stumpf pay figures, which USA Today published first, over the weekend. Fortune calculated what Stumpf would make even if he was canned, from Equilar’s figures. The pay is based on where Wells Fargo’s stock was at the close of trading on Thursday. Fortune first reported two weeks ago that Carrie Tolstedt, the Wells Fargo executive who oversaw the unit making the phony accounts, stands to leave the bank with $124.6 million. But that’s in part because Tolstedt was allowed to retire. If she had been fired Tolstedt would have had to forfeit as much as $45 million of that payday.
Stumpf has said that Wells Fargo’s board has meet to discuss clawing back a portion of Tolstedt’s enormous pay.
But unlike Tolstedt, Stumpf’s exit pay would nearly reach the nine figures even if he is found to have played a part in the fraud, or at least knew about it and let it go on.
At least for now there is no evidence of that, and there is no sign the board is even considering pushing Stumpf, who is reportedly within a year or so of retirement even before the scandal broke, out the door.
Backlash against the bank continues to grow following the news that Wells Fargo had been fined $185 million on Sept. 8 for opening millions of deposit and credit card accounts that its clients never requested or authorized be open. Many customers didn’t even know the accounts existed. Shareholders and critics, at least so far, appear to think the fine and Stumpf’s subsequent apologies (in which he initially blamed on poor performing employees rather than Wells Fargo’s management) were inadequate. Several have called for clawbacks on both Stumpf and the executive in charge of the division where the fraud took place, Carrie Tolstedt, in a bid to pacify outraged consumers and investors.
The majority of Stumpf’s potential exit package, 60%, is made up of his stake in the company: 1.6 million shares worth about $74 million as of Thursday’s close. Stumpf already owns these shares, but as the head of the bank, or any large company, it would be very hard to for him to cash those out as CEO. Once he leaves the bank, he is free to sell. On top of that, Stumpf stands to collect just over $24.3 million from Wells Fargo’s deferred compensation plan even if he is fired, as well as an another $4.4 million from a supplemental 401(k) plan that the company set up for its top executives.
But that’s not all. Wells Fargo’s latest proxy statement says that Stumpf is eligible for salary continuation, which presumably means that he would continue to get paid his $2.8 million salary or a portion of it, for a number of years after he leaves the company, including it appears even if he were fired. In addition, even after Stumpf leaves Wells Fargo, he won’t have to drive himself, or answer his own calls. According to the company’s latest proxy, Wells Fargo will continue to pay for a part-time driver for Stumpf for two years after he leaves the company, as well as an adiminstrative assistant. Wells Fargo says the benefit is worth an additional $200,000 a year. The proxy statement does not say that he would lose assistant and driver even if he was fired for cause.
Wells Fargo declined to comment on the story.
Since news of the scandal first broke, Wells Fargo’s stock has fallen 8.7%.