Wells Fargo has been busy assaulting the reputation of bankers—and bizarrely, bankers don’t seem to care. Not even a little bit. Seriously, Wells has been exposed for loudly and publicly brutalizing its customer base, and we trusted industry players sheepishly shrug it off with an, “Ah, that’s just Wells being Wells…”
In just the past two years, the San Francisco giant has revealed a mind-blowing pattern of deceptive business or unfair practices entirely focused on earnings at the expense of the bank’s own customers. With such a pattern, where has the outrage been? Why so quiet, American Bankers Association and other trade groups? You’re supposed to be “the united voice of America’s banks,” but you have appeared indifferent to Wells’ threat to the industry’s reputation.
CRA. GLBA. CFPB. Dodd-Frank. Name the rule, reg or newly formed regulator, and the common bond is that they were all born out of bankers not policing their own industry. A few big banks make hay out of pushing the limits of good taste, and the rest of the industry pays for it. When are we going to police the big boys for bullying their customers with market share leverage and damaging our reputation in the process?
And AFTER the ads:
And there are multiple accusations, lawsuits and documented chicanery I didn’t even bother to mention. The pattern of the past two years is beyond what any banker could have imagined.
Wells has singlehandedly shined a light on bad banking practices towards consumers for two years straight. Bankers should be historically pissed off and insulted. Yet, it’s pretty quiet out there from bankers when it comes to outrage over Wells Fargo.
Notably, the ABA, Consumer Bankers Association and other trade groups should be way out in front of this, leading the charge to protect the reputation of banks that choose to “make things right” for customers day in and day out long before Wells made it a scandal recovery tagline.
Bankers shouldn’t kid themselves that the brand and reputational damage has only accrued to Wells. At least to some extent, all bankers will get lumped into the “cheating, money-grubbing banker” reputation every time a new Wells Fargo headline hits the papers. The threat from regulation, credit unions, the Farm Credit system and data security combined pales compared to what a reputation for mistrust could do to our industry.
As an industry that lives and breathes on customers who entrust banks with their hard-earned money, bankers should be more outraged, punishing and loud in calling out Wells not as a closely regarded “victim,” but as a bad actor that will not be welcome in the industry if its leaders ever sense a sniff of this dishonest B.S. again.
That’s my shot over the bow, and yes, I do feel better.