A Former Wells Fargo Employee Is Making Big Banks Pay For Their Crimes Against The U.S. Economy.

4 months ago Alexander Posekian 0

If you browse progressive blogs and forums, you’re probably aware of disdain toward keyboard activism or “slacktivism.” There’s a widely held notion that people who champion their causes online rather than in the streets don’t actually make a difference. Kevin Pham is just the latest example of why that criticism is often nothing more than unfounded cynicism.

Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee, has utilized social media’s potential to go viral and incite change. In the wake of Wells Fargo’s fraudulent accounts scandal, he started a movement encouraging Wells Fargo employees to quit and customers to close their accounts. In a Facebook post that has been shared over 26,000 times, Pham aired his grievances about his former employer and made a call to action.

He criticizes the bank’s “toxic sales culture and victimization of unwitting customers” as well as the fact that the CEO fired “low level employees barely making a living wage” after the latest scandal rather than “tak[ing] accountability, fir[ing] one person in senior management, giv[ing] back any part of his bonus, or resign[ing].” 

Pham’s #CloseYourAccount and #HoldFWAccountable hashtags aim to hit bankers in the only place they care about: their pocketbooks. You can read his post in its entirety below. If you enjoyed reading this post, please Like American Progressive on Facebook!

“To Wells Fargo Customers and Employees,

I’m a former Wells Fargo employee and am writing this to voice my concerns about the CEO’s response to the fraudulent account scandal and to suggest actions we can take as individuals to hold them accountable.

To give you some background, I worked at Wells Fargo from 2008 to 2010. During my time there, I witnessed the alleged toxic sales culture and victimization of unwitting customers first hand (yes this culture dates back to before 2011).

This extreme pressure forced bankers to specifically target the most vulnerable customers, such as the elderly, young, non-native english speakers, and financially unsophisticated.

I’ve heard of children of elderly customers coming in to ask why their parents had so many accounts that they didn’t use. I’ve seen low income customers have accounts charged off due to fees and their credit destroyed.

I admit, as a young and naive Teller, I participated in these practices, but didn’t realize the gravity of my actions until I became a Banker myself. I personally had a mental breakdown trying to reconcile the conflict between my job responsibilities and my ethics. I brought my concerns to my District Manager in 2010 and was accused of making excuses for my poor performance. I quit shortly after.

Fast forward to 2016, I was encouraged to hear that Wells Fargo has been been fined for these fraudulent practices (well the ones that happened after 2010) and the CEO, John Stumpf, was being summoned to testify before the Senate.

However, I was discouraged to learn that the fine was tiny, about 0.8% of 2015 Net Income. But that wasn’t the worst part.The worst part was seeing the CEO refuse to take accountability, fire one person in senior management, give back any part of his bonus, or resign.

Even worse, he had the audacity to put the blame squarely on the shoulders of 5,000+ low level employees barely making a living wage (the only people that were fired).

It was at that point, I decided I simply could not sit back and remain quiet any longer. I’ve seen this story happen before during the 2008 Financial Crisis. The bank’s army of high paid lawyers will protect management from any type of criminal prosecution or even having their bonuses clawed back.

I am sick and tired of waiting for other people to take action, whether it be politicians, regulators, or law enforcement. This is why I’m writing this post and urging customers and employees to do the following:

If John Stumpf does not resign and return a portion of his incentive bonus. If Carrie Tolstedt, the former head of Community Banking, does not return a portion of her bonus. If defrauded customers aren’t compensated fully.

I urge customers to vote with their feet by closing their accounts and moving to competitors or credit unions. This is the ONLY way to get Bankers to listen, as most of them only care about the BOTTOM LINE.

I urge employees to begin looking for opportunities elsewhere. You will do well at an institution with sane incentive goals and better products. Also my guess is that there maybe layoffs due to the revenue hit from the removal of sales goals.

On my part, I don’t have any accounts with Wells Fargo. However, I have put my money where my mouth is and opened a short position on the company’s stock. Unlike Mr. Stumpf or Ms. Tolstedt, if I do make any money, I pledge to give half of it to charity or a worthy cause.

My hope is that if these actions are taken by Wells Fargo customers and employees, it will force management’s hand.

Furthermore, I want this to serve as a deterrent to the banking industry at large. If any bank in the future tries to defraud the American people again, they’ll suffer the same fate at the hands of the people.

But I can’t do it alone. As a people, we need to take action and take back control of our country from the banks.

So please TAKE ACTION by sharing this post or posting pictures of you closing your account with the hashtag #closeyouraccount and#holdWFaccountable.

Remember: The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing. Individually, this is a minor act, but if enough people join in, it will reverberate throughout history.

I appreciate your help,

Kevin Pham

**Update 9/22**: Thanks to all of you, this post has been shared close to 4,000 times! However, raising awareness is only half the battle, it’s now time to back up our words with action (unlike John Stumpf). I’ve created a Facebook event to coordinate a “National Close Your Wells Fargo Account” day, so we all can send a clear message to not just Wells Fargo but to all banks. That they will no longer be able to make millions by defrauding the American people without suffering consequences. Details of the event are here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1787325391534185/

Please attend, close your account, invite and share!!

Remember, this will be all done in vain unless we all take action collectively.”