WELLS FARGO & Co. Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan will tell lawmakers that the bank has undergone a dramatic transformation in sales practices and customer service in the year since its bogus-account scandal became public.
Company executives acted too late to address problems that resulted in millions of accounts being opened without customers’ consent, Sloan said in a testimony prepared for a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Tuesday. He apologized for letting customers and employees down and outlined the steps the bank is taking to fix the problems that led to the scandal, according to a copy of the remarks obtained by Bloomberg.
“The past year has been a time of great disappointment and transition at Wells Fargo because we recognized too late the full scope and seriousness of the problems,” Sloan said. “The past year has been humbling and challenging.”
The San Francisco-based bank has undergone a major transformation, changing its sales practices, establishing an office for investigating customer complaints and holding senior executives accountable by implementing a new compensation structure, Sloan said.
He said Wells Fargo also has hired back more than 1,780 employees who left the bank during the years the alleged phony accounts were opened. The company has eliminated $180 million in senior executive compensation, and not one member of the operating committee who was serving before September 2016 received a bonus last year, Sloan said. Top executives in the community banking division where the fraud occurred were terminated and their bonuses weren’t paid, he said.
Sloan also summarized the findings of its own companywide review of the scandal, which has involved outside consultants, regulators, independent directors and lawyers.
Wells Fargo has remained in hot water with lawmakers and customers after revealing last month that possibly a million more customers were affected than earlier estimated.
The lender is also facing legal backlash from borrowers who said they were charged fees for the bank to lock in promised rates on new mortgages and others who were hurt by its auto-lending division billing for unwanted car insurance.
The scandal erupted last year, engulfing the bank in criticism and legal challenges over its improper account practices and leading to several firings of senior executives. The lender had to comb through millions of accounts potentially tainted by employees’ drive to meet sales goals, including through the deliberate creation of fake accounts that may have totaled as many as 3.5 million. — Bloomberg