Wells Fargo’s New Account Openings Down 30% After Fake Account Fiasco

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

Despite overhauling its teller pay system and ditching a high-pressure sales goal incentive program, Wells Fargo continues to face the consequences of its fake account fiasco perpetrated by employees who opened more than two million unauthorized accounts, as customers continue to avoid opening new accounts and credit cards with the banking biggie. 

The number of customers opening new checking accounts was down 31% in the last month compared to the same time last year, the company said in its January retail banking customer activity report released today.

As for credit card applications, the company says they have dropped 47% from the same time last year.

Customers also appear to be avoiding the bank, even if they have accounts there, as branch bankers had 14% fewer interactions with customers, according to the report.

Despite the declines year-over-year, the number of account openings, credit card applications, and face-to-face interactions are actually up from December, perhaps a sign that customers are slowly working their way back to the bank.

In addition to addressing fewer account openings, Wells Fargo also revealed its latest customer satisfaction ratings. The bank’s “customer loyalty” scores remained down slightly year-over-year. In January this year 77.2% of customers thought their last interaction was satisfactory, while 77.8% agreed to that in Jan. 2016. However, the score improved from the 76.4% rate in Dec. 2016.

Loyalty ratings for the bank were slightly worse. Last month, loyalty scores came in at 56.9%, down from 61.6% in 2016. It was a slight increase, however, from the 55.5% rating in Dec. 2016.

“We remain focused on meeting our customers’ financial needs by providing great service and quality products, and we’re pleased that our customer experience survey scores increased for the third consecutive month,” Tim Sloan, president and CEO, said in a statement, without mentioning the past three months’ figures.

The relatively low numbers come nearly six months after the bank found itself in hot water with federal regulators when the company was ordered to pay $185 million for its high-pressure sales tactics that led to the opening and closing of millions of customer accounts without consent.

Wells Fargo employees, according to regulators, regularly misused customers’ personal information, opening nearly two million unwanted accounts and failing to close the unauthorized accounts despite complaints from customers.

These actions would have likely inflated the number of new accounts opened for any given month. For that reason, it’s unclear if the drop in new accounts puts the bank where it normally would have done business in Jan. 2016 had employees not opened unauthorized accounts.

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