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?
If bankers still feel a “family” affinity to Wells, let’s look at a timeline since 2016 well documented by Yahoo! Finance and CNN:
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.
11 thoughts on “Why Do Fellow Bankers Give Wells Fargo a Free Pass?”
Thank you for this article; I hope the industry listens. I would also like to ask why the politicians are so silent. Wells Fargo has been getting away with mistreating their most vulnerable customers since at least the 1970s. Anything from Elizabeth Warren, who created the CFPB? Or Bernie Sanders for that matter? Are they too busy counting the money Wells Fargo has donated to their campaigns?
Thanks for taking the time to send your thoughts, Patty! Lots of silence from all angles it seems.
Where is RICO enforcement when you really need it?
A simple google search of “ICBA Wells Fargo” will reveal that the Independent Community Bankers of America has been on the soapbox condemning the abuses of Wells Fargo and other Too Big to Fail scofflaws – since 2010!
You are correct that far too many bankers do not join ICBA in denouncing the abuses of TBTF banks. Incredibly, even some community bankers misguidedly share in the shame and blame that rightfully falls at the feet of Wells Fargo and others, but this is in spite of the unequivocal, full-throated denunciation from the only trade association that exclusively represents community banks. Your criticism of ICBA is totally unwarranted.
My apologies, Preston, for missing that big time. We are in process of editing the article now!
You mean like this? https://twitter.com/Schornack/status/989136728102440961
We aren’t afraid and happy to take a stand. It doesn’t reflect the way we do business and we’re happy to stand by our customers and ask Wells Fargo’s customers to come join us at Flagship Bank.
Yes, I mean exactly like that. Love it, Andy, thanks for sending!
Another ICBA advocate here with a little history of Wells Fargo Tweet rants. ICBA and it’s leadership bankers have been all over the Wells scandals. Thanks for updating the story! #IQuitWellsFargo should be the next trend! https://twitter.com/JohnBuhr/status/1027941173808254976
Thanks, John. Glad to see bankers trying to right the wrongs of Wells and wannabe writers like me!
I wonder if it is because most bankers suspect the same mistakes are happening at their shops, and that they would be guilty of the same if they had the Regulator Forensic Army looking at every single one of their accounts and transaction records also.
Bankers reflect the mores of our society. Trust in many institutions—governments, the Church, media—have taken significant hits in recent years so probably many if not most bankers are inured to the specific problems. More to the point are the lapses in judgment on the part of many bankers from community to mega banks to the point that one could almost write a full length book of fact (that would read like fiction) recounting actions that would be properly recited under the heading, “What were they thinking?” We have a big job ahead to fix this stuff. I wonder what the “precipitating event” will be.