Wells Fargo Employees Tell John Stumpf That "We Learned It From Watching You, Dad"

This "A few 5,300 bad apples ruined the bunch" defense is not holding up too well.
Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
The last chairman AND CEO of Wells Fargo?

The last chairman AND CEO of Wells Fargo?

When Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf appears before Congress early next week to explain why his bank engaged in bold and widespread fraud for the better part of a decade, it's fair to expect that he will stick closely to his newly-minted "A few 5,300 bad apples ruined the bunch" defense.

It is also more than reasonable to assume that many of the politicians teeing off on questioning Stumpf will greet that story with responses ranging narrowly between icy and "The f@ck you said?" But in a refreshing change of pace, those members of Congress will not be alone in their sentiment as it seems like a large number of former Wells Fargo employees will be watching at home shaking their heads at the notion that Wells Fargo was not a cultural incubator of bad behavior.

In fact, former stagecoachers are popping up all over the internet to share their stories of working under the regime of Glengarry Glen Stumpf. The NY Post has a nice little collection...

A wave of former Wells Fargo employees are shooting down claims made by Chief Executive John Stumpf that the bank had “no incentive to do bad things.”
“I saw people that left a wake of screwed customers get promoted past me because they were willing to do all the sh– they shouldn’t,” one former banker posted on an online forum recently.
“Doing the stuff [the bank] got popped for was a known secret, and damned near every one did it,” the person, who goes by the screen name FormerWF, said in an “Ask Me Anything” forum on Reddit on Sept. 10.

And some who worked at Wells while the 2 million fraudulent accounts were created want to be very clear that many of the people doing all the bad stuff were doing so for professional self-preservation. At least according to the NY Times which talked to a former Wells Fargan about why the banks attempts to curb bad behavior didn't seem to work... like at all...

Some former employees say the explanation is simple: Wells has continued to push the sales goals that caused employees to break the rules in the first place. In fact, the goals at the center of a $185 million civil settlement and investigations by prosecutors in three states are not set to be phased out for another three months.
“They warned us about this type of behavior and said, ‘You must report it,’ but the reality was that people had to meet their goals,” said Khalid Taha, a former Wells Fargo personal banker who resigned in July. “They needed a paycheck.”

By trying to instill a secondary culture of paranoid self-policing, Wells Fargo apparently forgot to realize that almost everyone was acting crooked and no one was going to report on themselves. And those who did speak up ended up pretty screwed.

“I bitched about it to the point where I was miserable, and disillusioned,” FormerWF wrote. “No one cared to fix the problems. The final straw was knowing I was doing stuff the right way and could never match the numbers of the people that were doing stuff the wrong way and got promoted past me.”
The former employee laid blame directly at the feet of Stumpf, saying “the people he has put in place helped further the issue they are dealing with now of a culture of dishonesty and screwing customers.”
The person used a screenshot of part of a W-2 form to prove his bona fides. The IRS form showed that he worked for the Wells Fargo at 624 Marquette Ave. in Minneapolis — and made about $41,115 a year.

That doesn't look good, Stumpfy. And neither do the allegations that the fraud was so rampant, managers became exhausted by the idea of actually dealing with it...

But the problems persisted. Mr. Taha, 28, said he fielded complaints from customers about questionable accounts until shortly before he left the bank this summer. He said bank managers had grown weary of writing up reports on potentially improper sales.
“It was like jaywalking,” Mr. Taha said of the practice of creating fraudulent accounts. “It was hard to police.”

If the former employees are to be believed (and few things admittedly scream caution like "former employee") the reign of John Stumpf at Wells Fargo makes the heady days of Steve Cohen's SAC Capital look like an Eagle Scout meeting. Year after year of trying to plug a hole that he didn't want to admit was there with mass firings and bullshit compulsory seminars decrying a practice that was almost demanded by a culture of impossible sales goals? That's a far cry from "We had some punks in the bank, but we took care of it."

So don't forget to tune in on Tuesday, it's gonna be a doozy!

Ex-Wells Fargo employees challenge CEO’s fraud denial [NY Post]
Wells Fargo Warned Workers Against Sham Accounts, but ‘They Needed a Paycheck’ [NYT]

Related