When my mother wanted me to be aware of someone’s self-serving nature she would say, “Hooray for me, and the hell with you!”
That one sentence was a much-needed warning as my tendency was to follow the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”). The trouble is, sometimes you can feel like a bit of a patsy following that rule when everyone is muttering through a fake smile, “The hell with you!”
At a company like Wells Fargo, management has built their fortunes exploiting their clients in the most egregious of ways.
A July 27, 2018 Wall Street Journal article by Emily Glazer “Whistleblowers Detail Wells Fargo Wealth Management Woes” details how perverse sales goals greased the already oily fingertips of advisers who: “pushed clients into products that generated additional fees and often moved client assets between different products or investing platforms to generate more revenue and bigger bonuses…”
Add this ick to a long list of gripes against Wells Fargo, including manipulating banking data, opening fake customer accounts, hocking dangerous investments, using illegal lending practices in minority and low-income communities, not to mention claims of ripping off small business owners, mortgage holders and car insurance policy holders.
What I can’t figure out is how they have the audacity to outline their values on their website. This is a direct lift from its site which put someone’s MFA degree in Creative Writing to tragic use:
Five primary values guide every action we take:
- What’s right for customers. We place customers at the center of everything we do. We want to exceed customer expectations and build relationships that last a lifetime.
- People as a competitive advantage. We strive to attract, develop, motivate, and retain the best team members — and collaborate across businesses and functions to serve customers.
- Ethics. We’re committed to the highest standards of integrity, transparency, and principled performance. We do the right thing, in the right way, and hold ourselves accountable.
- Diversity and inclusion. We value and promote diversity and inclusion in all aspects of business and at all levels. Success comes from inviting and incorporating diverse perspectives.
- Leadership. We’re all called to be leaders. We want everyone to lead themselves, lead the team, and lead the business — in service to customers, communities, team members, and shareholders.
They say their vision is to make customers succeed financially. Well, that just doesn’t add up in the land of hooray for me, and the hell with you.
What is baffling is its advisory arm manages $1.6 trillion in retail client assets!
For all its misdeeds Wells’ net income year-over-year went from $5.9 billion in the second quarter of 2017 to $5.2 billion in 2018 and revenue went from $22.2 billion to $21.6 billion over the same period.
Where’s karma when you need it?
Mistakes get made in life, but a predatory culture is hard to shake – and even more difficult to clean up.
If customers believe they are working with professionals who are doing a good job – that’s nice. But if those at the top of the food-chain have blood dripping from their teeth, I don’t much care how nice my bank rep/advisor is.
Wells is not alone. The good news is an online search and a visit to FINRA’s BrokerCheck allows investors to research firms and individual representatives for disciplinary actions and infractions.
Always look at the firm’s record, as well. Remember: Culture is as culture does.
Separate out those firms who use the Golden Rule from those who thumb their noses at it, and at you. Then, take your business elsewhere.