Wells Fargo CEO Out to Regain Customer Loyalty, Trust

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan is all about transparency and an open letter he wrote aims at restoring customer loyalty and customer trust.

Sloan published an open letter to Wells Fargo customers to thank them for their loyalty and to share progress following the company’s September 2016 consent orders and legal settlements regarding retail sales practices.

“As we work toward rebuilding the trust of our customers, team members, community partners, and shareholders, we are committed to keeping our stakeholders informed,” Sloan wrote in the letter. “This is why we are not only thanking them, but also sharing the significant progress we have made to make things right, fix problems, and build a better Wells Fargo, recognizing much work remains that we are committed to doing.”

The letter, which is being advertised in newspapers and digital outlets in more than 30 markets across the country where Wells Fargo serves communities, summarizes company progress such as changes in its senior leadership, executive accountability actions, refund efforts for customers impacted by unwanted retail accounts, the elimination of product sales goals for retail bankers, and steps taken to strengthen the company’s culture and risk management.

The letter precedes a new Wells Fargo brand campaign, “Building better every day,” that is set to debut April 17. The campaign will highlight the many parts of Wells Fargo –products, services, and people – that reflect the company’s commitment to continuous improvement and innovation that is aimed at building a better Wells Fargo.

In September 2016, Wells Fargo announced settlements with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney over the opening of unauthorized accounts and services for some of its customers.

“To all who have stood by us as we have worked to make things right at Wells Fargo, we thank you,” Sloan’s letter reads. “We know you have many choices when it comes to banking, which is why we feel it’s our privilege to serve you. I became CEO of Wells Fargo six months ago, following our September 2016 retail sales practices settlement. My first act was to apologize to our team, our customers, and the public for our company’s mistakes. At that time, I made a commitment to build a better bank and to earn back your trust. While there is still work to do, there has been progress that I want to share with you: We’ve taken many steps to make things right for our customers. So far, we’ve refunded approximately $3.2 million to approximately 130,000 retail and small business accounts. We’ve also agreed to a preliminary $110 million class action settlement that will go toward further customer refunds. And to any customer whose credit might have been affected by unauthorized account openings, we commit to you that we will make things right.”

Sloan’s letter notes changes made to ensure “we always put our customers’ needs first. We eliminated product sales goals and changed how we pay our retail bankers. We’ve also invested in our people, increasing the pay for our entry-level team members across the country. We’ve strengthened our ethics and risk management. This includes creating a new Office of Ethics, Oversight, and Integrity; adding protections so anyone can feel safe reporting their concerns to our Ethics Line and expanding training for our managers and bankers, so they can better respond.”

Sloan demands greater accountability from everyone.

“We’ve changed leadership at our Community Bank and terminated executives linked to inappropriate sales practices,” the letter says. “Our Board canceled all 2016 cash bonuses for eight senior leaders—including myself—who were on the company’s Operating Committee prior to Nov. 1, 2016. And we changed our Board structure to separate the roles of Chairman and CEO. Building a better bank is about fixing what went wrong and committing to finding new and better ways to serve our customers. Even as I write this, we continue to introduce new ways to deliver services, develop our people, and manage risks. All that said, I want to assure you that regaining your trust remains our top priority. In the near term, our Board of Directors will issue the results of their independent investigation. As we process those findings, we will continue to update you on our efforts.”

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