Cast your memory back to the early days of the Wells Fargo sales scandal, when it still seemed like things might just blow over. In September, CFO John Shrewsberry told senior staff to look beyond the ugly headlines and take comfort in the fact that the bank's bottom-line would emerge from the scandal unscathed.
In comments immediately leaked to the media, he explained that executives “probably won’t broadcast that because it might incentivize people to do more, to make it tougher on Wells Fargo, but the story line is worse than the economics at this point.”
Turns out wishing doesn't make it so. In a new release of retail banking performance, Wells Fargo revealed that customers are bolting from the bank. Branch banker interactions fell 14 percent in November from a year earlier. Checking account openings were down 41 percent. Credit card applications tumbled 45 percent.
That doesn't look good! The numbers are ever-s0-slightly improved from October's stats, which also saw double-digit annual declines in key consumer banking metrics. But in a statement, CEO Tim Sloan looked on the bright side:
We were pleased that in November our existing customers continued to actively user their accounts and valued their relationships with Wells Fargo.
Existing customers did indeed continue to bank as normal. Non-existing customers, however, continued to be a sore spot.
You have to give it to the new leadership at Wells Fargo for keeping with the narrative that outgoing execs Carrie Tolstedt and John Stumpf so carefully established. Before stepping down in October, Stumpf worked hard to ensure that Wells Fargo was synonymous with hapless bumbling and continuous embarrassment. Since then the bank suffered a community lending downgrade and flunked a living will test. It's no easy feat to stay so consistent after an executive transition.