aside How Far Back Does The Wells Fargo’s Scandal Go? Connect The Dots

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Why is it important to peg when upper management knew about this practice of bogus accounts being created by Wells Fargo employees while under pressure to meet unrealistic cross selling goals? Wells Fargo’s executives are attempting to paint the picture that this scandal dates back to 2011 even though the CEO testified at the Senate Banking hearing on 9/20/16 that the company staff is reviewing customer accounts going back to 2009. With my research, I can demonstrate that this practice was known by Wells Fargo’s top brass at least by 2006. Mr. John Stumpf, Wells Fargo’s CEO has served as its president from 2005 to 2015.

On 9/26/16, Matt Egan exposes evidence that Wells Fargo’s customer bogus accounts scandal dates back to a much earlier time than 2011. Here are some excerpts from his CNN Money article, “Wells Fargo workers: Fake accounts began years ago:”

These practices were going on way before 2011,” said Susan Fischer, a former Wells Fargo branch manager, who worked at the bank for five years, starting in 2004.TheJustice Department launched an investigation two weeks ago. Two Congressional hearings have been called. CEO John Stumpf was skewered in the Senate last week and the House hearing is scheduled for this Thursday(9/29/16).

“Fischer said she remembers her district manager instructing her in 2007 to make the employees reporting to her open unauthorized accounts. It was about a year after she moved from Wisconsin to Arizona to manage a Wells Fargo branch.”

bank-must-use-pix-formr-emp-practice-goes-back-2004160926080557-susan-fischer-wells-fargo-quote-780x439“My district manager told me, ‘Do whatever you need to do,'” Fischer said.”

“But Fischer ran into trouble when she refused take part in fraudulent activity. Superiors said she wasn’t hitting her goals. Soon, Fischer got so stressed from her work environment that she had to take a medical leave of absence and wasn’t allowed to return.”

“Why is the former Wells Fargo branch boss speaking up now? “If someone doesn’t stand up, this is going to continue,” she said.”

“Fischer’s account matches those of other employees, who spoke to CNNMoney, where the bank made employees’ lives difficult when they couldn’t meet sales targets, whether via bank-cartoon-0915wellsfargolegitimate or illegal tactics.”

“It’s not clear exactly how far back the fake account trouble goes, nor how widespread it was prior to 2011.”

“However, a confidential Wells Fargo sales quality manual that was last updated in August 2007 suggests the bank’s compliance team was aware of issues even then.”

“The document, used in a 2011 legal case against the bank, stressed that employees must obtain a customer’s “express consent and agreement” — those words were underlined and in bold — for each and every line of credit opened.”

“The manual further reminds employees that customers must “request issuance of a Business ATM/Check Card” and that “check cards should not be mailed to store addresses or held at a store location.” Wells Fargo also warned that splitting a customer deposit into multiple accounts to boost incentive metrics is a “sales integrity violation.”

bank-cartoon-wf-20160914edohc-a“Wells Fargo itself seems to have tacitly acknowledged that fake accounts may have been a big problem earlier than the 2011. Earlier this week, while under fire at the Senate hearing.  the Wells Fargo CEO said the bank would expand its review to include 2009 and 2010.”

“Wells Fargo declined to comment on why only those two years will be included, nor about the allegations former employees made to CNN Money.”

“When Denny Russo started working in April 2010 at a Wells Fargo in Petaluma, California, he found that accounts were already being opened without authorization. “The sales machine was well under way then,” the former teller said.”

“Russo said Wells Fargo’s senior executives are lying when they claim they were unaware of this problem.”

“Emilie Ward, another Wells Fargo teller in Chaska, Minnesota, told CNNMoney that “100% this began long before 2011.”

“Ward joined Wells Fargo in 2008 and said customers often had no idea about accounts being opened.”

“They would set up debit cards people didn’t know about and have them mailed to the bank,” she said.”

bank-most-imp-photo-j-s-wells-fargo-card2-wellsfargotimeline-v2b“Another former teller, Rebecca Lewis, said she saw unauthorized accounts — especially credit cards — opened when she was hired in March 2009 in Idaho. Her attempts to flag the issue by calling the ethics hotline backfired, echoing allegations other former workers who say they were retaliated against.

“Wells Fargo has been a hazard to the public for a long time,” Lewis said.

Any entity with subpoena power can review documents detailing the strategic goals agreed to, by the executives who previously held the position that Carrie Tolstedt (2008-2016) has filled. to check if cross selling ratio objectives were listed.

CONNECT THE DOTS

cross-selling-tactics-cartoonsI estimate that that Wells Fargo opened their first mega call center around 1999. I base this fact on the basis of its executives’ plans to celebrate their 18th Annual Call Center Week in 2017.(See link below.) If you Google “call center cross selling,” you will find lots of pages of entities marketing their ability to assist companies become successful with this selling tactic. Below are some articles of marketers advertising this concept of financial institutions implementing  “inbound call centers” as a productive  crossselling  channel” as early as 1998. Then add the details found in the above CNN Money article:

“However, a confidential Wells Fargo sales quality manual that was last updated in August 2007 suggests the bank’s compliance team was aware of issues even then.”

Bado called a Wells Fargo ethics line and sent an email to human resources in September 2013 to flag improper sales tactics. Eight days later, he was terminated for "tardiness."
Bill Bado called a Wells Fargo ethics line and sent an email to human resources in September 2013 to flag improper sales tactics. Eight days later, he was terminated for “tardiness.”

“The document, used in a 2011 legal case against the bank, stressed that employees must obtain a customer’s “express consent and agreement” — those words were underlined and in bold — for each and every line of credit opened.”

In conclusion, a conservative estimate as to how far back the scandal of Wells Fargo’s agents creating bogus customers’ accounts goes, would be the year 2006.

Related Articles:

Cross-Selling in Call Centers: Modeling and Optimization  www.unibg.it/static_content/ricerca/dipartimento…/aksin.pdf University of Bergamo 1998 Modeling crossselling in a call center. – The model with random revenues. – The model with fixed revenues. 

Study: Inbound Cross-Selling Can Outdo Outbound Service For Banks …  www.dmnews.com › Sections › Topics › Agency Jul 6, 1998 – Inbound call centers can be a productive crossselling channel for banks and other financial institutions…

Today’s CRM solutions can help CSRs Cross-sell and Upsell  www.mytotalretail.com/article/todays-crm-solutions-can-helpcrosssell-upsellAug 1, 2001 – Kathryn Jackson of Response Design, a call center consulting firm, says … Most new CRM systems enable crosssell and upsell both …

George Larribas – 18th Annual Call Center Week scheduled for June 2017 in Las Vegas www.callcenterweek.com/george-larribas-speaker, an executive vice president and head of Wells Fargo Treasury Management Client Delivery. Based in Los Angeles, he oversees more than 865 team members who are based primarily in seven service (call) centers nationwide …

U.S. probes Wells Fargo whistleblower, wage theft complaints –money.cnn.com/2016/09/27/…/wellsfargo-whistleblower-investigation/ 9/27/16 – The whistleblower issue has resurfaced since Wells Fargo admitted to firing 5,300 workers over … Nearly a half-dozen former Wells Fargo employees… told CNN Money exclusively …

11 comments

  1. Gronda, great reporting. There is a roll-up affect in the numbers, so managers had to be well-aware of what was going on, as it aided their bonus metrics.

    This reminds me of Food Lion back in the late 1980s, where the ABC news person went to work for them. The managers all knew how to find operating margin, so they made people work off the clock and flipped dated meat over and bleached it for longer sale time. The off-the-clock work was like this. They would give Johnny thirteen things to do and say you must complete them before your shift ends, knowing it was impossible. Then, they would say you are inefficient, so you will have to work off the clock to get it done.

    Managers know and looked the other way.

    Keith

  2. Dear Keith, You are right on. Mr. Strumpf, his cohorts and front-line supervisors all benefited with the bank showing earnings in the black for years along with padding their bonuses on the back of their front-line employees.

    Here’s the rub. Cross selling is a useful tool but not on every call. For example, if a client is calling in with a complaint, this person wants the issue addressed and fixed. This is not the time for a cross sell. Suppose on another contact, a client is complaining about their account with Bank of America, I would be derelict in not mentioning the benefits of a USAA banking account. In this case, I am helping our member.

    You are right…the managers looked the other way so that they would get their bonuses, good evaluations, raises and promotions as long as they cracked the whip and got results, no matter how.

    This is how the call center system was originally sold.to the business community. There would be easy profits but to increase revenues, all the supervisors had to do was make sure the agents made a minimum number of calls per day while keeping down the (AHT) average handling time. Make certain the reps are at their desk for a certain amount of hours per day with a basic script. The cross selling metrics would be pushed with supervisors monitoring calls to ensure compliance with the company’s directions. The culture that was created starts from the top.Now, it is so entrenched that the reality is Mr. Stumpf has to go because he has not faced how toxic the work environment is and in order to send the message that integrity, ethics and just doing what is right will no longer be compromised.

    I read somewhere that the board is demanding an independent investigation (audit) of Wells Fargo and of how it conducts its business. And Ms. Carrie Tolstedt will not get her severance paycheck. Whoop-di-doo!!

    I remember that story about Food Lion. I was so happy that I never was one of their their customers.Talk about compromising one’s brand

    Let’s hope Wells Fargo can be rescued out of this mess. A good reference would be to review how around Mr. James Bush 2006 created a constructive call center culture (American Express) that is the exact opposite of Wells Fargo.

    Ciao, Gronda

    • Gronda, we need more people to lose severance. Roger Ailes is let go for cause, but keeps his severance. I know of a CEO that wrecked two companies and left with severances from both. Boards are scared to act on the “for cause” provision, because they are usually CEOs themselves and don’t want it done to them at their companies. In her case, it was part of clawback, which superceded the “cause” part. Good reporting, Keith

      • Dear Keith, I would just want the board to do their due diligence before a company finds itself in hot water. It does frost the average Joe to see CEOs being rewarded for doing a lousy job. Life is not always fair. Ciao, Gronda

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