Business

After the scandal, Wells Fargo's damage becomes apparent

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, file photo, customers walk into a Wells Fargo bank in Pembroke Pines, Fla. On Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, Wells Fargo reports financial results. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)

It's going to get worse for Wells Fargo before it gets better. In the wake of the biggest scandal in the bank's 164-year history, distrustful customers are not opening as many checking accounts or applying for credit cards, and branch visits and meetings between customers and bankers are down, too. Wells has also been hit with several lawsuits from customers, employees and shareholders. There are calls from politicians for fraud charges against the bank. And Wells almost surely faces settlements and fines way beyond the $185 million it agreed to pay regulators when the scandal broke wide open last month. The San Francisco-based bank is engulfed in a crisis that started in mid-September, when Wells reached a settlement over allegations that its employees opened up to 2 million bank and credit card accounts without customers' authorization in order to meet high sales goals. Wells Fargo executives, including newly appointed CEO Tim Sloan, are having trouble quantifying what the long-term effect on the bottom line will be. Investors expect Wells to walk away from this crisis mostly intact, but it is apparent that the bank's recovery will be long and arduous. For now, "our immediate priority is restoring trust in Wells Fargo," Sloan said in a conference call with investors Friday.

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Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo& Company is an American international banking and financial services holding company headquartered in San Francisco, California, with"hubquarters" throughout the country. It is the world's second largest bank by market capitalization and the third largest bank in the U.S. by assets.