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What We Can All Learn From the Wells Fargo Scandal

It doesn’t usually take me long to write a blog post.

I get inspired. I think of what I want to say. I sit my butt down in a chair with a big cup of coffee and I write it out.

This one took all day. All. Damn. Day.

And really, it’s because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say about this.

Ever since the news of the big Wells Fargo scandal hit my radar, I’ve felt like I should write something. After all, I worked there. I saw some of the early warning signs of this debacle coming.

But my thoughts about this were scattered.

I don’t want to piss people off.

I want to offer an opinion (based on experience) of value, not just and angry, hostile rant.

So instead, I chose an off-the-cuff video sharing my thoughts on this situation.

Yes, I’ll admit, it’s a little lengthy, but being a lover of capitalism yet a hater of unethical business practices, I felt the need to share my perspective.

Again, to recap:

  1. We get what we reward.
  2. Cross-selling and sales are not the enemy.
  3. Quantity over quality isn’t sustainable.
  4. If you want to know what customers need/want, talk to the people closest to the customer.

Of the 5,300 employees who lost their jobs over this, it doesn’t appear that any of them were top level executives. There is no conceivable way that someone at the top didn’t know what was going on. Here’s the video to the Senate hearing I referred to in the video.

If you have customers, never, ever take your eye of the prize. Effective sales should create a win for all parties: the organization, the customer and the salesperson.

In this case, the only winner was Wells Fargo.

And they probably aren’t feeling quite so lucky anymore.


  1. Amy says:

    Thanks for your post and the food for thought you gave me last night and today in comparison to my own business.

    I agree with the idea of finding the right balance between sales and service. I also agree with the notion that if you believe in your company and the products that you are selling you no doubt want your customers to experience ‘one of everything’ even if for Wells Fargo the magic number was 8, which seems arbitrary…. It makes me wonder where they came up with that number and how it got lost between headquarters and the sales/service banking personnel who deal with customers in a daily fashion.

    That seems at the heart of good service and sales, but seems to be lost at some point when an organization becomes too large/out of touch or both. It makes me question what the good ones do well and the poor ones haven’t figured out.

    However, I find it a bit hypocritical that Elizabeth Warren is the good gal in this sceario (given how she made some big bank herself with some ethically questionable real estate flipping during the 2009 recession all the while scolding others during this crisis)

    I also find it questionable that only Wells Fargo is the bad guy (I personally have similar experiences in a comparable ‘big bank’ who will not be scrutinized by a ‘limousine liberal’ as Ronald Reagan would call her and subjected to pay for similar activities.)

    It makes me wonder who is going to benefit most from the big pay out by Wells Fargo. I highly doubt it will be the consumer nor the taxpayer who will benefit. The politicians and lawyers are not doing this for our benefit, but their own, which seems to be the same position as Wells Fargo.

    Sorry for the long rant.. You definitely got my mind spinning. Thanks for the interesting posts.

    • Rebecca says:

      Totally understand the apparent hypocrisy that Elizabeth Warren brings to the table and in this particular case, I still believe her to be in the right, only because of the degree of “in the wrong” Wells is. I do believe the executives lost touch with not only the customers themselves, but the employees closest to them. It’s seriously too bad. And finally, I totally agree with you. Even though the violated customers will receive some restitution, the average consumer will not be the winner here. I can only hope that it will cause all organizations to pause and really consider if their sales goal plans are consistent with A. reality (at all!) and B. some overarching set of ethics and values. Wells Fargo’s goals weren’t consistent with either. Love the dialogue, Amy…thank you for posting!

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