I’ve spent the last ten weeks studying Wells Fargo for my Public Relations management class. And I’ve got to tell you, I’m not a fan.
For those of you who don’t know, last year Wells Fargo was engrained in a scandal that rocked them to their core. Certain employees were opening unauthorized accounts to allow them to receive bonuses and attain certain sales goals. And unfortunately for Wells Fargo, this was the scandal that made them front page news.
Now I will say this about the company; they have been around since 1852, they avoided the financial crisis and they’ve been the gold standard for a long time. But in this scandal they showed consumers that banks always have been, and always will be, money hungry companies looking to make a buck off of the consumer.
And that’s fine, I get that that’s how it works. We put our money in banks and hopefully we get a little return and some security out of the whole deal. But what bothers me is that Wells Fargo didn’t even try to act like they were better than all the other banks. They created a system inside the company that basically allowed their employees to just open new accounts without consent and rob their customers blind in the process. And no one caught on. For five years this happened before it was finally leaked.
So not only do banks already have a bad image, here comes Wells Fargo further sullying the names of big financial institutions with their latest scandal.
But I don’t think that their response has been strong enough. They got a new CEO, and they fired the 5,000 bad eggs that put them in peril. But what else? I’m standing on the outside looking in and they haven’t convinced me yet that they’ve changed as a company. Where are the new ads? Where is the CSR? Where is the commitment to community? They got their $185 million fine and now they’re trying to act like they can just brush this scandal off but they can’t.
And that’s the real mistake being made here. Wells Fargo thinks that right now it’s business as usual. But it’s not. And the sooner the company realizes it, they better off they’ll be.
We as consumers need to be able to trust these brands, especially big banks. And until they prove to us that they add value and can be trusted to protect one of our most precious commodities, money, Wells Fargo will continue to struggle.