Students Contemplate the Future of Investing In Wells Fargo

Students Contemplate the Future of Investing In Wells Fargo

At some point, whether it is during or after college, finances must become a discussion a student must have with oneself. Whether people take out loans from there or anywhere else, the establishment that helps keep a person financially organized is a bank. If one doesn’t have a bank account, typically there is no protection for their own money.

Yet sometimes banks are hard to trust, especially with so much competition going on in the market. People have switched banks or created accounts with other banks because not everything is offered to them.  Recent scandals over the past decade have made arguments for more or less regulation as a way to solve these problems.

Wells Fargo is in the hot seat after they made millions of fake accounts over the past five years. These fake accounts were opened in the names of existing and non-existing customer to boost sales numbers. The bank is facing an multiple lawsuits, criminal investigations and fines that total more than $185 million so far, and that number will most likely grow.

Marketing juniors Sashmore Collins and Macaiah Gross realized that it was a way for the bank to earn extra fees and artificially inflating sales figures. “There is lots of pressure to make sales goals and illegal things happen,” said Gross.

Gross, who works in cosmetics, understands that pressure happens is any company. “Someone should have taken charge. Working in sales, we would have goals. Management in retails don’t do anything.”

Wells Fargo’s Chief Executive Officer, John Stumpf supposedly took the blame for the fake accounts that were created. However, there were no signs that Stumpf contemplated on giving up his role, despite requests from many, such as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who feel he should resign.

Finance professor, Kenneth M. Lobo had just finished a discussion with his students in his Financial Statement Analysis class about Wells Fargo. “I reacted in three ways,” Lobo said. “There were basic flows in the company compliance and control system” was his first reaction. He recalls the reputation of the company during the last three to five years and the company’s success worldwide. The gaps in the control system caused people to start doing the wrong things.

“There was the incentive to take advantage of flaws,” was his second reaction based on analyzing deeper into the control system. Lobo’s statement contradicts Stumpf’s statement that was made before appearing in the Senate Banking Meeting on September 20th.

“Management doesn’t hold themselves accountable for that,” Lobo added.

At a board meeting the following week later, Stumpf agreed to forgo $41 million worth of equity and not take this year’s bonus as the investigation is ongoing. It turned out that management knew exactly what they were getting into within the company. Employees were left with few options when facing sales issues.

“They had the approval of the manager to continue to do it,” Lobo theorizes.

Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 employees within the past five years. Many lawsuits have been filed during the past month and complaints have been made concerning account management. “Reputation will be affected. All the other banks are tainted by this,” said Lobo.

Citigroup Inc. customers represented 1.8 complaints for each $1 billion of deposits. Behind them was Bank of America Corp. with 1.7 complaints and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. with 1.1 complaints. Wells Fargo is the largest bank in the United States and the entire world. This doesn’t only affect these other banks, but also those who have accounts at multiple banks at once.

“There has to be additional regulations on the banks. Sometimes regulation is good. Wells Fargo needs it,” explained Lobo.

“They are rehiring a lot of people through screening,” added Collins. The screening process would be fortunate for those employees who know it was not necessarily them that started the whole scandal.

Some college students have started working in paid jobs while others are just doing non-paying internships. Out of the 5,300 people who got fired, not everyone will get rehired. This means there is one open door for college students who need work experience. Lobo already has one of his students interning for Wells Fargo. He says with a spark of hope, “You better get a job after this. I tell people to apply at Wells Fargo for internships. Nobody will be applying. It’s still a very good bank.”

For such a large company, Wells Fargo is conservative. There were not many risks concerning trading and had good retail management until the share prices started going up. The risk that management took to get their employees to create these fake accounts was done because of the rise in share prices. Management placed this institutional strategy in order to regain the retail business and for the employees themselves to earn bonuses or better pay.

“They were on the safe side of banking and had safe capital ratios. I don’t trust them,” said Lobo.  “Wells Fargo is going to learn from this problem. There needs to be a stronger public relation and accountability model. It is an unfortunate situation.”

Gross followed with a similar reaction, “My parents had bad experiences with them and it passed down to me. It was about a car loan. They weren’t friendly enough.”

Despite her parents’ experience that caused her to not become a customer with Wells Fargo, she has a message for future grads with accounts already in the bank. “If it did affect them, don’t make accounts with them. Also, legal things come around when there is pressure.”

After recalling about that one student of his interning at Wells Fargo, Lobo has some advice for students in need of paying back loans after graduation. “They should go talk to their bank. They should ask, ‘Is there going to be problems with my loan?’ They should look for alternative sources and hopefully the bank might offer them better deals.”

He also added, “They should renegotiate better goals. Go to them and say ‘I think I should move my account to another bank’ and the bank would say, ‘No, we could do this, this and that’ to create better terms on their existing notes.”

For Collins, a Wells Fargo customer, this scandal is just something within the employees themselves. After terrible experiences with Chase and Bank of America, she was grateful for the experience she had when signing up for fraud protection.  “It is just people under pressure. No bank wants to steal money from their clients. You can blame the company for hiring the wrong people.”