Wells Fargo still feeling impact of sales practices scandal
NEW YORK (AP) — Wells Fargo is still seeing fewer people at its bank branches as well as a decline in checking-account openings as the scandal over its sales practices takes its toll.
But there is a silver lining for the bank: Its February numbers are up from December lows.
Wells Fargo said Monday that customers opened 40 percent fewer checking accounts per day last month compared to a year earlier, while the number of customer interactions with branch bankers per day was down 17 percent. The numbers are similar to those it has been reporting since it started giving monthly updates late last year.
Credit card applications also fell sharply, dropping by 53 percent.
There were some improvements. While overall account openings were down sharply from a year earlier, average daily customer visits were up slightly from January. Internal customer loyalty and satisfaction scores also improved.
Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said last week that he believes that the impact of the scandal had "bottomed out" in December, and that customers were starting to return to the bank.
The San Francisco-based bank has been working to restore customers' trust since it was discovered that in order to meet lofty sales goals, employees opened up to 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customer authorization. It's the biggest scandal in the bank's 164-year history and led to the abrupt retirement of its CEO, John Stumpf. The bank was fined $185 million by U.S. and California regulators.
In order to give investors and the public information on how the scandal has impacted Wells' business, the bank began providing monthly branch activity updates starting in September.