Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Inventing accounts

It's bank accounts I'm talking about. While Wells Fargo is the bank in the news this month, it is likely not the only bank that is inventing accounts. The invention involves existing customers. Because the profit on those customers that only have one account, perhaps a checking account, is fairly low, c. $40 per customer account, Wells Fargo decided to sign existing customers up for additional products, the practice is called "cross-selling". The problem is that most customers said no to another account. So, Wells Fargo opened an account anyway. Thus, someone with a savings account supposedly opened a checking account, got a credit card, transferred a 401(k), and maybe even took out a mortgage. 

Wells Fargo has been doing this mythical "cross-selling" for several years and has been able to increase the average number of products, per customer, from about four to more than six. However, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau finally got wise and fined the bank $190,000,000. More than five thousand employees were fired for the offenses. But, as is typical in today's world, none of those fired were at all high in the corporate structure.

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