Wells Fargo Employee: I Tried Talking Friends & Family Into Opening Accounts To Meet Sales Quotas

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Yet another former Wells Fargo employee has come forward to talk about the high-pressure atmosphere created by the bank, where she says there were only two types of employees: those who sold customers on products they didn’t want, and those that were shown the door.

Today’s Washington Post features a first-person account from a former Wells Fargo personal banker, who recalls working late on Christmas Eve, after the bank had closed and her co-workers had all gone home, trying to persuade her family members and friends to open accounts with the bank so she could meet sales quotas.

“During my time at Wells, my colleagues and I were pressured to sell, sell, sell accounts to people who really didn’t want them — blurring ethical lines along the way,” the former employee writes.

She says she didn’t have much of a choice in the matter, unless she wanted to be out a job. Instead, she observed fellow co-workers, who were making their goals, and took their lead with “assumptive sales.”

“We’d tell [customers] what they’d be getting, but we’d never ask customers what they wanted,” she writes. “We’d place them in a position where they may feel uncomfortable saying no; they may think they are actually getting a great deal; they’re simply overwhelmed with too much information all at once; and they’ve sunk the cost of spending the afternoon with one of us, so they might as well just say yes.”

The former banker admits that in the end the desire to make goal was also about her competitive spirit and wanting to do a good job. But, she says, Wells Fargo also created that atmosphere with team meetings and call nights centered around how much employees were selling.

For example, she claims that each branch would host a “huddle” where managers would ask tellers what they were “committed” to for that day, meaning how many accounts could they open, services they could sell.

“Huddles were a chance to be treated like a minor god, or publicly shamed,” she says.

Each week, the former employee says, she and co-workers were required to stay late to cold-call customers, asking them to open accounts. In most cases, she says the employees would call friends and family members and persuade them to open accounts so they could go home.

“A day might end at 7 p.m. with tired high-fives and pats on the back, but it would all be forgotten by the next morning,” she recalls. “And for a lot of bank managers, that wasn’t enough.”

While lawmakers are looking to determine if the opening of fraudulent accounts unfairly targeted senior citizens, the former employee says that her branch specialized in going after younger consumers — namely college students. Because the branch served several college campuses, the woman says she and co-workers knew that many of the accounts they opened for students would either go unfunded or negative in a matter of weeks or months.

Eventually, she says she left Wells Fargo after realizing she had become consumed with work, and the sales goals that went along with it.

You didn’t need a new Wells Fargo account. I sold you one anyway. [The Washington Post]