- Wells Fargo CEO Stumpf Quits in Fallout From Fake Accounts
John Stumpf, who led Wells Fargo & Co. through the financial crisis and built it into the world’s most valuable bank, stepped down as chief executive officer and chairman, bowing to public outcry over legions of accounts opened by his employees for customers who didn’t request them.
Stumpf, 63, is retiring from both posts effective immediately, the bank said Wednesday in a statement. Tim Sloan, 56, the chief operating officer long viewed as his most likely successor, will become CEO. Lead director Stephen Sanger will become the board’s non-executive chairman. Elizabeth Duke, a former Federal Reserve Board governor, will be vice chair.
“This was John Stumpf deciding that the best thing for Wells Fargo to move forward was for him to retire — even though that was a very difficult decision,” Sloan said in an interview. “He wasn’t fired” or even “gently pushed” by the board.
Stumpf leaves Wells Fargo and its 268,000 employees with a damaged reputation. It has refunded $2.6 million to affected customers and has said it’s ending sales incentives that have been blamed for the abuses. The stock fell as much as 12 percent after the misdeeds became public, and its subsequent rebound hasn’t been enough for Wells Fargo to retake the top spot in market value among U.S. banks, which it relinquished to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Wells Fargo shares climbed 1.8 percent to $46.13 in extended trading at 7:28 p.m. in New York, after the San Francisco-based company announced Stumpf’s exit. The stock had slumped 17 percent this year through the close of regular trading, the worst performance in the 24-company KBW Bank Index.
“It’s great news” for investors because it may help quell the public’s frustrations, said Tony Scherrer, director of research at Smead Capital Management, which oversees more than $2 billion including shares of Wells Fargo. “There’s no better and more reasonable fall guy out there than John Stumpf.”
Stumpf told directors Monday that he wanted to leave, and the board received his written resignation Wednesday morning, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The exit was approved that day, Sloan said. He declined to comment on the board’s investigation of senior executives and other managers over the misconduct. The company said Stumpf wasn’t available for interviews.
It’s an ignominious end to a nine-year tenure as CEO that saw Wells Fargo grow to become the biggest U.S. home lender with returns that were the envy of other bank executives. The profits were driven in part by cross-selling — offering credit cards to customers who opened checking accounts, for example — the strategy that’s at the center of the scandal that brought Stumpf down.
His unraveling began Sept. 8, when the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced that Wells Fargo had agreed to pay $185 million to settle allegations it secretly opened the unauthorized accounts. Multimillion-dollar settlements have become almost routine in the banking industry, but the brazenness and breadth of the misconduct struck a nerve.
The U.S. Senate called a hearing, and two weeks later Stumpf traveled to Washington for a three-hour grilling. “I am deeply sorry that we’ve failed to fulfill on our responsibility to our customers, to our team members and to the American public,” Stumpf told the Senate Banking Committee. “I’ve been through many challenges at Wells Fargo, but none of which pains me more.”
Senators took turns berating him. Senator Elizabeth Warren accused him of “gutless leadership” for blaming junior employees.
“You should resign,” the Massachusetts Democrat told Stumpf. “You should be criminally investigated by both the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
A week after the hearing, Stumpf agreed to forgo $41 million in unvested stock that had been granted for performance, as well as some of his salary.
That wasn’t enough for Congress. At a second hearing on Sept. 29, called by the House Financial Services Committee, Stumpf denied there was any organized effort to open sham accounts. Lawmakers suggested the bank should be broken up and called for his arrest.
Wells Fargo “is a criminal enterprise,” said Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat. “Would you allow someone to walk out after robbing your bank?”
Sloan’s ascent may not appease such outcry. He’s close to Stumpf, serving on the operating committee and holding several of the company’s most senior posts. He was chief financial officer for three years until 2014, when he took over the bank’s Wall Street operations. He became president and chief operating officer last November, overseeing key divisions that include the retail arm, where abuses occurred.
“I remain concerned that incoming CEO Tim Sloan is also culpable in the recent scandal, serving in a central role in the chain of command that ought to have stopped this misconduct,” U.S. Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, said in a statement.
Yet Sloan is highly regarded internally and, importantly, didn’t work within the tainted branch network during the misconduct, said Marty Mosby, an analyst at Vining Sparks.
“His background has been the wholesale bank and not the consumer bank,” Mosby said. So the appointment “is kind of a fresh slate.”
The bank has said it fired 5,300 employees over the fake accounts. Some low-level employees came forward, saying they were under intense pressure to meet sales quotas. They said managers told them to do whatever it took to open new accounts, even if customers didn’t ask for them.
At Warren’s insistence, the Department of Labor agreed on Sept. 26 to conduct a review of whether the bank violated wage and overtime rules while pushing branch workers to meet aggressive targets. U.S. prosecutors are also investigating, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.
“What you saw from the two hearings was that he came across as really out of touch, not just with what was going on in the bank, but also with the current political environment,” said Brian Kleinhanzl, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods in New York. “It was a certain aloofness that he presented, which is not what you wanted to see in that situation. Overall, he completely misread the situation.”
Stumpf, one of 11 children of a dairy farmer from Pierz, Minnesota, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Minneapolis, joined the loan department of Norwest Corp. in 1982 and rose through the ranks. In 1998, Norwest merged with Wells Fargo and Stumpf was put in charge of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He was appointed president in 2005.
When Stumpf assumed the top job in June 2007, the U.S. housing bubble was about to pop. A year later, amid the ensuing financial crisis, he outmaneuvered Citigroup Inc. to purchase Wachovia Corp. American Banker chose Stumpf as its 2013 Banker of the Year, and Morningstar Inc. named him its CEO of the Year for 2015. Aside from settlements with cities such as Baltimore and Memphis for predatory mortgage lending in which it neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing, Wells Fargo generally avoided controversies that ensnared some of its competitors.
While Stumpf lacks the presentation skills of some other CEOs, he deserves credit for managing the integration of Wachovia, said Gary Townsend, founder of family office GBT Capital Management in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Other Wall Street CEOs have survived more costly misdeeds. Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was excoriated at a 10-hour Senate hearing in 2010 over the bank’s aggressive marketing of mortgage investments and paid a then-record $550 million fine. JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon faced a congressional committee’s displeasure over the London Whale trading debacle, which ended up costing more than $1 billion in fines. Even J.P. Morgan Jr. was dragged before Congress in 1933 to take blame for the Great Depression. None lost his jobs.
“There is not a single American with a bank account who hasn’t had complications, errant fees or frustration,” said Isaac Boltansky, an analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading LLC in Washington. “That’s what makes this account scandal so insidious and relatable.”
Wells Fargo has paid Stumpf more than $250 million since 2000, when the bank first began disclosing his compensation. That figure includes $23 million in salary, $44 million in cash bonuses, and $190 million from the vesting of stock and exercising of stock options.
He owns $100 million of the bank’s shares, plus stock options that would be worth $41 million if exercised at Wednesday’s closing price. He’s eligible for $24 million from his retirement plans if they were paid out in a lump sum.
He should “return every nickel he made while this scam was going on,” Warren said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. “If Mr. Stumpf is leaving with all of his ill-gotten millions that’s still not real accountability.”
As CEO, Stumpf cultivated a folksy persona, regaling interviewers with descriptions of his hardscrabble upbringing. He pushed cross-selling, using slogans including “Eight is Great” to encourage bankers to sell eight different products to each customer.
Ironically, the fake accounts weren’t profitable for Wells Fargo, according to Mike Mayo, an analyst at CLSA Ltd. in New York.
Stumpf was two years away from Wells Fargo’s mandatory retirement age of 65. Some analysts said they weren’t surprised by his decision to leave early.
“As this issue snowballed, it began to look like the most likely outcome,” said R. Scott Siefers at Sandler O’Neill & Partners. “You had high-profile politicians calling for his resignation. There was a lot of vitriol directed at them publicly. So this should help to stanch some of that bleeding.”
Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend
Oil Dips Below $62 in New York Though Banks Say Rally Can Extend
Oil retreated from an earlier rally with investment banks and traders predicting the market can go significantly higher in the months to come.
Futures in New York pared much of an earlier increase to $63 a barrel as the dollar climbed and equities slipped. Bank of America said prices could reach $70 at some point this year, while Socar Trading SA sees global benchmark Brent hitting $80 a barrel before the end of the year as the glut of inventories built up during the Covid-19 pandemic is drained by the summer.
The loss of oil output after the big freeze in the U.S. should help the market firm as much of the world emerges from lockdowns, according to Trafigura Group. Inventory data due later Tuesday from the American Petroleum Institute and more from the Energy Department on Wednesday will shed more light on how the Texas freeze disrupted U.S. oil supply last week.
Oil has surged this year after Saudi Arabia pledged to unilaterally cut 1 million barrels a day in February and March, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicting the rally will accelerate as demand outpaces global supply. Russia and Riyadh, however, will next week once again head into an OPEC+ meeting with differing opinions about adding more crude to the market.
“The freeze in the U.S. has proved supportive as production was cut,” said Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro. “We still expect that Russia will push for a significant rise in production,” which could soon weigh on prices, he said.
- West Texas Intermediate for April fell 27 cents to $61.43 a barrel at 9:20 a.m. New York time
- Brent for April settlement fell 8 cents to $65.16
Brent’s prompt timespread firmed in a bullish backwardation structure to the widest in more than a year. The gap rose above $1 a barrel on Tuesday before easing to 87 cents. That compares with 25 cents at the start of the month.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and oil trader Vitol Group shot down talk of a new oil supercycle, though they said a lack of supply response will keep prices for crude prices firm in the short term.
Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return
Oil Prices Rise With Storm-hit U.S. Output Set for Slow Return
Oil prices rose on Monday as the slow return of U.S. crude output cut by frigid conditions served as a reminder of the tight supply situation, just as demand recovers from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Abnormally cold weather in Texas and the Plains states forced the shutdown of up to 4 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude production along with 21 billion cubic feet of natural gas output, analysts estimated.
Shale oil producers in the region could take at least two weeks to restart the more than 2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude output affected, sources said, as frozen pipes and power supply interruptions slow their recovery.
“With three-quarters of fracking crews standing down, the likelihood of a fast resumption is low,” ANZ Research said in a note.
For the first time since November, U.S. drilling companies cut the number of oil rigs operating due to the cold and snow enveloping Texas, New Mexico and other energy-producing centres.
OPEC+ oil producers are set to meet on March 4, with sources saying the group is likely to ease curbs on supply after April given a recovery in prices, although any increase in output will likely be modest given lingering uncertainty over the pandemic.
“Saudi Arabia is eager to pursue yet higher prices in order to cover its social break-even expenses at around $80 a barrel while Russia is strongly focused on unwinding current cuts and getting back to normal production,” said SEB chief commodity analyst Bjarne Schieldrop.
Crude Oil Rose Above $65 Per Barrel as US Production Drop Due to Texas Weather
Oil prices rose to $65.47 per barrel on Thursday as crude oil production dropped in the US due to frigid Texas weather.
The unusual weather has left millions in the dark and forced oil producers to shut down production. According to reports, at least the winter blast has claimed 24 lives.
Brent crude oil gained $2 to $65.47 on Thursday morning before pulling back to $64.62 per barrel around 11:00 am Nigerian time.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 2.3 percent to settle at $61.74 per barrel.
“This has just sent us to the next level,” said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. “Crude oil WTI will probably max out somewhere pretty close to $65.65, refinery utilization rate will probably slide to somewhere around 76%,” Yawger said.
However, the report that Saudi Arabia plans to increase production in the coming months weighed on crude oil as it can be seen in the chart below.
“We are in a much better place than we were a year ago, but I must warn, once again, against complacency. The uncertainty is very high, and we have to be extremely cautious,” he told an energy industry event.
Fitch Agency Revises Nigeria’s Growth Projection for 2021
COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations
Sterling Bank Approves Audited Financial Statements for 2020
Stock Market3 weeks ago
Citron Research that Called Jumia Fraud, Ends 20 Years of Short Selling Report After Losing Big on GameStop
Government4 weeks ago
45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, Launches ‘office Of The Former President’ In Florida
News2 weeks ago
Doctors Warn Covid Will Become Endemic and People Need to Learn to Live With it
Government4 weeks ago
President Muhammadu Buhari Appoints New Service Chiefs as Buratai, Others Resign
Stock Market4 weeks ago
Avoid Being Drawn into Social Media-Fuelled Stock Hysteria: deVere CEO
Cryptocurrency3 weeks ago
Why CBN Bans Banks from Facilitating Cryptocurrency Exchanges
Banking Sector4 weeks ago
Board of Zenith Bank Approves Dividend and Audited Financial Statements for 2020
Bitcoin1 week ago
Bitcoin Surges Above $50,000 Per Coin on Tuesday, Sets a New All-Time High