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Wells Fargo Not Likely to Declare ‘Mission Accomplished’

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Photo: Daniel Tepper/Bloomberg

Don’t expect Wells Fargo & Co. to declare a formal end to the scandals that have plagued the bank for the past two years.

“That whole ‘mission accomplished’ thing has failed for other people before,” Chief Financial Officer John Shrewsberry said Wednesday at an industry conference in New York.

While the bank doesn’t expect any more major issues to emerge from its review of business practices, there’s little upside in making blanket statements to that effect, Shrewsberry said.

Wells Fargo has been combing through its businesses since September 2016, when regulators fined the company for setting up millions of possibly fake accounts on behalf of customers who never asked for them.

Chief Executive Officer John Stumpf stepped down the next month, putting current CEO Tim Sloan in charge of the lender’s turnaround efforts.

Earlier this month an additional problem area emerged: Employees in the bank’s wholesale unit were altering internal records about corporate clients without their knowledge, according to a person briefed on the matter. That was going on as recently as this year, the person said.

“We find things now that are immaterial but newsworthy that make people feel like there’s a bigger something wrong going on than maybe there actually is — which you feed by saying ‘mission accomplished,’” Shrewsberry said. “So I don’t think you’re going to hear those words.”

Still, the process of uprooting additional wrongdoing by bank employees is “virtually complete,” he said.

“I don’t think at this point that there’s anything meaningful that we aren’t already talking about, certainly since our last 10Q, so the inventory’s pretty complete,” the executive said, referring to the bank’s quarterly regulatory filing earlier this month.

“I’m sure there’ll be some still to work on going into next year, but our investors know everything that’s material that we know,” Shrewsberry said.


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