Saturday, May 26, 2018
Business

Shakeup at Wells Fargo fails to dispel skepticism

If Wells Fargo's board had hoped John Stumpf's resignation on Wednesday and the appointment of Timothy Sloan as the new top executive would instantly quell the bank's numerous critics, they were mistaken.

Within hours of the announcement, a member of Congress and other critics were already dismissing Sloan as the wrong man to make the big changes the bank needs to move past its predicament over the creation of as many as 2 million phony accounts.

While the Wells Fargo board emphasized that Sloan "is ready to lead the company into the future," the bank's critics focused on the role that Sloan — who has spent the past 29 years at Wells Fargo — played in the bank's troubling past.

"I remain concerned that incoming CEO Tim Sloan is also culpable in the recent scandal, serving in a central role in the chain of command that ought to have stopped this misconduct from happening," U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said in a statement.

Sloan's most recent role was as Wells Fargo's president and chief operating officer, positions he took in November 2015. During his 11 months in those jobs, he oversaw several major business lines, including the community banking unit, where employees were still being fired for creating fake accounts earlier this year.

For all the early doubts about Sloan, banking analysts say, cleaning up the mess at Wells Fargo would be an uphill job for anyone to undertake. Since regulators announced a $185 million settlement with the bank in early September, Wells Fargo has been consumed by the scandal.

Sloan made no pronouncements on an overhaul of the Wells Fargo culture. In a brief interview Wednesday, he said, "We are going to enact the changes that have already been announced," including ending the sales goals in the retail bank that former employees and others — including lawmakers and regulators — blamed for the problems.

Sloan added that it was important that he not interfere with the board and its internal investigation into the fake accounts and the bank's handling of them.

The bank is working on a new compensation structure for its employees. From now on, a great share of employees' compensation will hinge on whether they have improved the customer's experience, not on how many accounts they created.

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