Wells Fargo Overhauls Teller Pay System After Fake Account Fiasco

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Shortly after federal regulators fined Wells Fargo $185 million for its decades-long fake account fiasco perpetrated by employees who opened more than two million unauthorized accounts in order to meet high-pressure sales goals, the company said it would ditch the incentive system. Now, the bank has finally outlined its new approach to compensating employees that shifts the focus away from upselling add-on products and toward improved customer satisfaction.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Wells Fargo has overhauled its incentive-compensation system from pushing employees to open more accounts for customers, to a system that awards tellers and other bank workers based on how often customers use their accounts and whether or not they are satisfied with their services.

Under the new structure, accounts must be opened for at least three months to affect an employees’ pay. Those that are used frequently — for things such as direct deposit and debit card use — will generate a positive mark for employees, while accounts that aren’t used often won’t.

Additionally, workers will be able to earn additional positive marks based on customer surveys and mystery shoppers who visit their branches, the company says.

“Our goal here was to create a pay plan that would restore trust with our customers, team members and the public,” Mary Mack, the new head of Wells Fargo’s community bank division, tells the Tribune.

While the system is meant to provide employees with incentive to provide top-notch customer service, it won’t have a significant affect on their pay.

Instead, Wells Fargo says it will increase the base pay for most workers, with its lowest-level workers earning between $13.50 and $17 per hour, depending on geography and experience. With this, the company estimates that 95% of pay will be base pay.

Wells Fargo says that the new system will roll out to branches in the next few weeks.

Analysts tell the Tribune that the new program appears to address the biggest issues tied to the fake account fiasco, but concerns remain.

“How are they going to define a job well done? That’s what we don’t know,” Margaret Kane, founder of bank sales consulting firm Kane Bank Services, tells the Tribune. “What they’re doing is totally the way they should be going, but the devil is in the details.”

For example, Kane notes that it’s possible employees will feel pressure to push customers into giving good reviews on surveys in order to score points toward bonuses.

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