Wells Fargo keeps mortgage lending comp intact

Changes focus on retail banking

Wells Fargo recently made headlines as it received a fines and penalties totaling $185 million for illegally opening dummy accounts for consumers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau levied the largest fine in its history — $100 million — against Wells Fargo Thursday for the "widespread unlawful" practices of employees who opened more than 2 million fake accounts to get sales bonuses.

HousingWire's own Senior Financial Reporter Ben Lane said that the Wells Fargo fake accounts fiasco serves to prove that big banks didn’t learn anything from the financial crisis.

Shortly afterward, HousingWire Digital Reporter Brena Swanson raised the question “Is Wells Fargo’s cross-selling scandal over and is it really limited to only one bank?” after a quick search through the CFPB’s public consumer complaint database produced some alarming results.

Wells Fargo, however, had a very quick response. In addition to firing 5,300 employees, the company just announced it is totally revamping its compensation model for retail banking beginning January 1, 2017. As Wells noted below, this change does not apply across the entire bank's operations.

As part of the revamp, Wells Fargo announced it would change the employee compensation plan. Additionally, the bank offered several olive branches to the public over this behavior.

Indeed, Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf said that he holds himself accountable for the account openings from his company, according to an article by Abigail Stevenson for CNBC.

Stumpf even sent out a note to all Wells Fargo customers saying, “Every day we strive to get things right. In this instance we did not – and that is simply not acceptable.”

The note goes on the explain the change in the compensation plan for Wells Fargo employees.

But here’s the catch: nothing is changing for mortgage operations. So, as it turns out, Wells Fargo will just change some of its compensation model.

“As you know we have a number of different businesses with different business models,” Wells Fargo said in an email to HousingWire. “We think this change is only appropriate for retail banking.”

For everything outside of the retail division it will be business as usual.

This isn’t the first scandal at Wells Fargo.

Just last month, the big bank needed to pay out $3.4 million to customers for a mailing error.

And a few months prior, just in May, the CFPB took action against a former Wells Fargo employee for an illegal mortgage fee-shifting scheme

Late last year, Wells also needed to repay Houston homeowners $5.4 million after foreclosing on a home without righteous ownership.

And Wells Fargo also agreed earlier this year to a $1.2 billion settlement with the Department of Justice over charges that it violated the False Claims Act with its Federal Housing Administration lending from 2001-2010.

Now, federal prosecutors are even investigating Wells Fargo for its sales practices, according to an article by Emily Glazer and Christopher Matthews for The Wall Street Journal

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