Wells Fargo’s CFO Told Bank Execs That Scandal Not a Problem for Bank’s Bottom Line
Wells Fargo (WFC) chief financial officer said efforts by states to penalize its business over an unauthorized-accounts scandal would not affect third-quarter earnings “much,” the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a recording of an internal call.
John Shrewsberry was recorded as saying the bank would only take “some legal set-asides” but publicizing this “might incentivize people to do more, to make it tougher on Wells Fargo …,” the Journal reported.
The hour-long call with 500 senior Wells Fargo executives took place on Monday and was intended to lay out the bank’s strategy to move past the scandal, the newspaper reported.
Wells Fargo representatives were not immediately available for comment.
The Wall Street Journal also reported that Wells Fargo managers regularly pushed bankers to get customers to sign up for overdraft protection. Bankers were told to tell customers that it was required. Overdraft protection can be costly for consumers who are charged a fee for overdrawing their account. Regulators have tried to crack down on excessive overdraft fees since the financial crisis.
Vice also got a copy of a letter written by a former Wells Fargo bank branch manager to former community banking head Carrie Tolstedt warning of the potential customer abuse going back to 2005. Wells Fargo has said it didn’t started firing employees for the phony account problems until 2011, and CEO John Stumpf testified that he didn’t become aware of the issue until late 2013. But there is other evidence to suggest the abusive cross selling practices started much earlier.
The bank has been under pressure to show that it is ready to make amends and hold management accountable after government investigations revealed that some of its employees had opened as many as 2 million accounts without customers’ knowledge or permission in order to meet sales targets.
Executives were also recorded as saying that growth in Wells Fargo‘s new retail banking business would likely decline due to the scandal, the Journal reported.