Wells Fargo’s reputation has taken it on the chin for the last month.
The scandal surrounding the opening of 2 million accounts without customers consent by retail banking employees has forced CEO John Stumpf to testify before Congress and led to California and Illinois suspending business with the bank for 12 months.
This has been a huge hit to the image of Wells Fargo, but according to the Wall Street Journal, it hasn’t impacted the business too much.
According to a report from the Journal’s Emily Glazer, executives at the embattled bank held a conference call on Monday and reported that the scadal has not led to a serious drop-off in new business, but the bank doesn’t want people to know that.
COO Timothy Sloan said on the call that the bank was still opening more retail banking accounts than they were closing, but the difference is smaller than it had been in the past. Additionally, executives said that the impact from the loss of government business has been negligible.
Despite this seemingly good news for the bank, Wells Fargo executives don’t want the public to know it’s not too bad for fear of more retribution.
“We probably won’t broadcast that because it might incentivise people to do more, to make it tougher on Wells Fargo, but the story line is worse than the economics at this point,” said CFO John Shrewsberry on the call according to the Journal.
Put another way, if lawmakers and the public know that Wells Fargo isn’t hurting too bad they may tighten the screws on the bank even more.
This doesn’t mean executives think the bank is out of the woods. Stumpf said, according to the Journal, “It’s going to be harder for a while, and we get that.”
Evidently, however, the bank doesn’t want to advertise just how well it’s making it through.