The Republican Party of Nothing in Particular: A Crisis of Identity



After sixty years with a single bank, at least to me, loyalty to one’s bank is dead.

The days when branch managers were bankers and not babysitters appear to be over. They are little more than greeters shuffling you around to a “team member” who needs to consult the back office before displaying any initiative. My branch had less than a dozen people and plenty of empty desks.  

Due to a bank-caused problem, my name suddenly disappeared from my business account. My ATM card was revoked because a review determined I was no longer an authorized user, even though the card displayed my full name embossed over the company name. I was unable to change my online password. I could still make deposits and write checks but otherwise was flying blind.

Historically, many individuals have maintained long-term relationships with their banks, often staying with the same institution for years or even decades. However, several factors have contributed to a shift in consumer behavior and attitudes toward loyalty in recent years:

  • Increased competition: The banking industry has become highly competitive, with numerous banks and financial institutions vying for customers' attention. This has resulted in more choices and options for consumers, making it easier for them to switch banks if they find better offers or services elsewhere.

  • Technological advancements: The rise of digital banking and fintech has transformed how people interact with their banks. Mobile banking apps, online platforms, and innovative financial services have given customers more flexibility and convenience. This has made it easier for consumers to switch banks or use multiple financial providers simultaneously, potentially reducing traditional notions of loyalty.

  • Changing customer expectations: Younger consumers are often more demanding and value-oriented than seniors. They expect personalized experiences, competitive interest rates, transparent fees, and exceptional customer service. If a bank fails to meet these expectations, they are incentivized to switch to another institution that can better serve their needs.

  • Relationship-based banking: Some consumers prioritize building and maintaining long-term relationships with their banks despite the changing landscape. This is particularly true for businesses and high-net-worth individuals who may access personalized services, dedicated account managers, and tailored financial solutions.

  • Brand reputation and trust: A bank's brand reputation and trustworthiness play a significant role in consumer loyalty. If a bank has a strong track record of reliability, security, and ethical practices, customers may be more inclined to remain loyal, even in the face of increased competition.

Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $3.7B for Array of Violations

Wells Fargo has been ordered to pay $3.7 billion in penalties and victims’ compensation for alleged illegal practices that caused thousands of the bank’s customers to lose their homes and vehicles, federal regulators have announced.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered the bank to pay $2 billion in consumer redress and a $1.7-billion civil penalty, which is the largest fine the CFPB has ever levied against a single financial institution.

According to the CFPB, Wells Fargo customers had their vehicles wrongly possessed, were illegally charged erroneous fees and interest charges on auto and home loans, and were also charged “unlawful” overdraft fees. More than 16 million consumer accounts were affected, the agency says.

This is hardly the start of Wells Fargo’s run-ins with the CFPB and other federal regulators. The bank’s fake accounts scandal — in which Wells Fargo admitted in 2016 to creating millions of fraudulent accounts for customers without their consent — was followed by a string of CFPB reprimands and other federal actions. <Source>

Stock awards boost compensation for Wells Fargo CEO; bank faces seven shareholder proposals

The base salary and incentive pay for Wells Fargo & Co. chief executive and president Charles Scharf was unchanged in fiscal 2022 — confirming what the bank’s board of directors took the unusual step to announce on Jan. 27.

However, Scharf’s total compensation rose by 14.9% to $24.54 million based mostly on a sizable increase in the value of stock awards provided in 2022.

Wells Fargo reported that all its remaining four listed executives were paid $1.75 million in base salary, all unchanged from 2021.

    • Jonathan Weiss, Wells Fargo’s chief executive of its Corporate and Investment Banking unit, received a 98.7% boost in incentive pay to $3.82 million and total compensation of $13.84 million, up 53.5%.
    • Michael Santomassimo, Wells Fargo’s chief financial officer, received a 71.4% jump in incentive pay to $3.15 million and total compensation of $12.81 million, up 6.8%.
    • Mary Mack, Wells Fargo’s chief executive of its Corporate and Small Business Banking unit, received a 62.1% increase in incentive pay to $2.53 million and total compensation of $11.77 million, up 47.2%.
    • Scott Powell, Wells Fargo’s chief operating officer, received a 25.8% gain in incentive pay to $2.48 million and total compensation of $10.44 million, up 12.2%.  <Source>
  • Switching costs: While consumers now have more options, significant switching costs can still be associated with changing banks. These costs could include transferring automatic bill payments, updating direct deposit information, and adjusting to new account structures. Switching banks is not always a seamless process, and some customers may choose to stay with their current institution to avoid these inconveniences. <Source>

  • Customer service and support: Exceptional customer service remains critical in fostering loyalty. Banks that prioritize responsiveness, efficient issue resolution, and personalized support can create positive experiences for their customers, increasing the likelihood of loyalty.

Bottom line…

The bank I once knew at 17 is not the bank I now know at 77. I rarely enter a branch. I no longer visit ATMs for cash. And I deposit checks electronically. I might as well be dealing with a black box – and choose that box purely on fees, rate of return on deposits, and service when needed.

After receiving bad advice and jumping through the hoops the bank required to re-link me to my money, I took 30 seconds to enable a second bank account for electronic checks.

We are so screwed.

-- Steve

“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS