To: The Board of Directors, Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC):
My role in handling the wide-ranging issues stemming from the fraudulent opening of customer accounts has become a distraction to the extent that it compromises my ability to devote full time to my duties. Also, Senator Elizabeth Warren was right when she said to me, “Your definition of ‘accountable’ is to push the blame to your low-level employees. … It’s gutless leadership.”
I, therefore, resign as chairman and chief executive officer, effective immediately.
Government investigations have grown from the one conducted by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, for which we took a $185 million write-down and fired 5,300 workers, to a larger group of investigations that may include some criminal investigations. I will likely be drawn further and further into these, and my time available to run the bank will grow smaller and smaller.
The bank also faces a growing number of lawsuits, in which I may be named. I intend to defend my decisions as having been in the best interests of our customers and shareholders.
It is also essential that I have the time necessary to make certain legal actions by shareholders and the government do not lead to a clawback of any of the $60 million I have made as CEO over the past three years, the value of the sum to be paid to me by Wells Fargo this year, and all future awards to which I am entitled based on my employment contract.
I leave behind my road map for a business culture that will be in the best interests of customers:
- Ending product sales goals for everyone in the retail banking business to make certain nothing gets in the way of doing what is right for customers;
- Sending customers a confirmation email within one hour of opening any deposit account and an acknowledgement letter after submitting a credit card application;
- Contacting all deposit customers across the country, including those who have already received refunded fees, to invite them to review their accounts with their banker and calling the credit card customers identified in the review to confirm whether they need or want their credit card;
- Expanding the scope of our customer account review and remediation to include 2009 and 2010;
- And conducting an independent, enterprise-wide review of our sales practices.
Based on my current predicament, I wish I have done these things sooner.
John Stumpf (retired)