A couple of days after Wells Fargo released its earnings report, both the chairman and the chief executive officer of the retail bank have purchased stock of the company worth about $5 million. This is according to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
“These are new stock purchases, as opposed to compensation,” a spokesperson for Wells Fargo clarified in an email sent to CNBC.
Chairman and CEO
The filings show that Timothy Sloan, Wells Fargo’s new chief executive bought close to 40,000 shares whose total value came to $2 million. The price of each share was valued at $51.65. Sloan has been the chief executive officer of the bank since last year in October when he was appointed after having served as the bank’s president and chief operating officer. Stephen Sanger, Wells Fargo’s chairman, on the other hand purchased approximately 58,342 shares at the same price of $51.65 for a total of $3 million.
Analysts see the move as being a strategy to deflect from the bad press that the bank has been receiving recently. The negative publicity mainly stems from the fake accounts scandal that was unearthed. According to a report released following an investigation conducted by the board of directors, unattainable sales goals led to employees opening fake credit cards and account in the names of existing customer in order to boost the sales metrics. Slightly over two million customer credit card and checking accounts were affected.
After the scandal was unearthed, the previous chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf and the retail banking head, Carrie Tolstedt, were ousted. A total of $75 million in compensation was also clawed back. The bank was also slapped with fines totaling close to $300 million.
In the report by the bank’s board, Tolstedt was singled out as having created a culture of secrecy at her unit with a view to avoiding any negative information seeping out. Part of the reason she was able to operate with such leeway was the fact that Stumpf, the chief executive officer and chairman of the bank at the time, had an overly high regard for her discipline and work ethic.
A few weeks ago, Institutional Shareholder Services gave the recommendation that 80% of the members of Wells Fargo’s board need to be voted out. Wells Fargo has, however, pinned the blame entirely on the two ousted senior executives for the accounts scandal.