NEW YORK (AP) — The third chief executive of Wells Fargo in four years appeared in front of Congress on Tuesday, saying that there’s much the bank needs to do to fix its cultural problems, and isn’t expecting it to be done until 2021.
Charles Scharf took over the troubled bank late last year. He replaced Tim Sloan, who resigned in March only a couple of weeks after being lambasted by members of Congress in his own hearing.
Unlike Sloan, Scharf is an outsider, previously holding the jobs of CEO of Bank of New York Mellon and Visa. Since taking the job, Scharf has been candid that the bank still have much work to do and has been trying to resolve all of the bank’s legal problems.
“I am confident we can move this company in a significantly improved direction,” Scharf said.
Wells Fargo’s sales practices scandal is nearly four years old at this point, and the bank continues to remain mired in legal and regulatory trouble. The San Francisco-based company paid a $3 billion fine just last month for its illegal sales practices, on top of the roughly $1.2 billion in fines it had already paid. The bank remains under restrictions imposed by the Federal Reserve, not allowing Wells Fargo to grow any larger until its cultural problems are fixed.
Wells Fargo garners little sympathy among members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. The bank has faced fierce criticism from both parties, although Democrats tend to focus on Wells Fargo being too big to manage and Republicans emphasize that regulators did not catch the bank’s problems fast enough.
But both parties seem to agree on one thing.
“For the life of me, I don’t know why you took this job,” said Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y.
Tuesday’s hearing is the first of two that Rep. Maxine Waters, chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, is holding this week. The hearing on Wednesday was supposed to involve two members of Wells Fargo’s board of directors, but those directors resigned on Sunday ahead of the scheduled hearing. Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee issued reports saying Wells’ board was too willing to look the other way as the sales practices problems continued to grow.