Banking

Wells Fargo's embattled CEO needs to go, California treasurer says at heated meeting

Protesters rally outside the Wells Fargo bank downtown branch Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. In a settlement announced last week, Wells Fargo will pay $1 billion to federal regulators to settle charges tied to misconduct at its mortgage and auto lending business, the latest punishment levied against the banking giant for widespread customer abuses.
Protesters rally outside the Wells Fargo bank downtown branch Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa. In a settlement announced last week, Wells Fargo will pay $1 billion to federal regulators to settle charges tied to misconduct at its mortgage and auto lending business, the latest punishment levied against the banking giant for widespread customer abuses. AP

California State Treasurer John Chiang called Tuesday for the ouster of Wells Fargo's CEO at the company's heated annual shareholder meeting in Des Moines, Iowa.

"Time has proven Mr. (Tim) Sloan cannot drain the swamp. He has become it," said Chiang, a Democratic candidate for governor who has been critical of the bank since a sales scandal first erupted in 2016. "It is time for him to go."

Chiang was among Wells Fargo critics who spoke at Tuesday's meeting after a year of regulatory black eyes. Sloan has repeatedly said he is the right person for the job, and he reiterated Tuesday the "significant" progress Wells Fargo has made.

"I said it last year and it's still true: Rebuilding trust is our top priority," Sloan said, noting the bank has more work to do.

The meeting came less than a week after San Francisco-based Wells Fargo agreed to pay two regulators a combined $1 billion to settle claims the bank mistreated auto-loan and mortgage customers. Some attendees Tuesday praised the bank for steps it has taken to fix its issues, while others like Chiang used the opportunity to press the bank for more changes.

Read Next

Wells Fargo Chair Betsy Duke praised Sloan for his work as CEO, a role to which he was promoted in 2016 to replace former chief executive John Stumpf, who retired after the scandal.

"He immediately began to drive transformational change at the company, making it better and stronger every day," Duke said. She said Sloan also continues to streamline and simplify the company.

Also Tuesday, Wells Fargo won approval from shareholders for three proposals the company put up for vote, including one to approve executive compensation and another to ratify the bank's longtime auditor, KPMG. A prominent firm that advises shareholders had urged investors to oppose the auditor in light of the 2016 scandal.

Shareholders also approved a third proposal to elect 12 nominees to the bank's board, including board member John Baker, who served during the years the sales scandal was unfolding. Chiang had been among those calling for Baker's ouster.

According to results Tuesday, Wells Fargo said each director received more than 89.9 percent support among votes cast.

Charlotte, North Carolina based Wachovia was sold to Wells Fargo 10 years ago at the peak of the 2008 economic recession. With the major banking business now facing its own financial struggles, people wonder if Wachovia could have survived.

Read Next

One topic receiving a lot of attention at Tuesday's meeting was Wells Fargo's financing of gunmakers, a relationship that has come under heightened scrutiny following a deadly shooting at a Florida high school in February.

"Our company must not be financially associated with manufacturers of ... assault-style weapons that are sold to the public," Sister Nora Nash, of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, told the bank's leaders Tuesday.

Sloan said gun violence is a serious issue in the U.S., and that Wells Fargo has provided gunmakers and lawmakers with feedback from the bank's customers and others on the issue. But Sloan reiterated previous comments that legislation is the best way to address the problem — as opposed to banks deciding what customers can and can't buy.

Read Next

Coinciding with Tuesday's meeting, Wells Fargo critics planned demonstrations across the country, including in uptown Charlotte.

At one of those events, Communications Workers of America and other groups held a rally outside Three Wells Fargo Center to demand that Wells Fargo stop offshoring jobs.

  Comments