Kate Berry, American Banker, April 7, 2019


Since Wells Fargo’s phony-accounts scandal broke in 2016, the bank’s public and private reactions have diverged significantly.

After an initial bout of blame directed at the thousands of employees who opened the fake accounts in an effort to meet aggressive sales goals, the bank pivoted to a public position of contrition, saying it was dedicated to fixing its corporate culture to ensure nothing like that could happen again. That line was offered by then-CEO Tim Sloan last month when he testified to Congress, in which he said the bank had made significant progress in atoning for its mistakes.

Yet in private, bank executives and many rank-and-file employees have taken the view that the bank’s problems are largely not of its own making and have been overblown by overbearing regulators, scoop-hungry reporters, hostile members of Congress, and a system that has put its actions under an (unfair) microscope.

In short, the bank has appeared to be in denial that it has a problem at all, some argue.

“Denial is one of the hardest issues for a company to address after a crisis,” said Davia Temin, president and CEO of management consulting firm Temin and Company. “It’s not over just because Wells is ready for it to be over.” […read more]