Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 people after government regulators discovered that employees of the US bank had created millions of phony bank and credit card accounts to boost their sales figures.

They were opening the new accounts and getting the cards so as to get the bonuses for opening new accounts and issuing cards…..

That’s, err, pretty widespread. Senior management really, really should have known if something that large was going on.

18 thoughts on “Jeebus”

  1. I suspect poor management. I’ve seen what excessive targets can do to an organisation – people will do *anything* to bend or break the rules to try to make the targets.

    And if it’s not that, it’s still poor management since there’s trust issues that lead to employees doing something like that on a massive scale.

    I might not be a manager, or management material myself, but I’ve experienced enough bad management to know it when I see it.

  2. Targets and incentives. Who knew?

    Take the rail companies. They have targets to meet of X% reaching the terminus “on time”. The target doesn’t seem to mention that the train has to carry any passengers. So my rail provider sometimes chucks all the passengers off and runs the trains empty and non-stop to the end of the line. Meets the target.

    Centrally directed performance targets will always be gamed by individuals on the ground. Regulators have neither the knowledge of the incentive to set or manage suitable, workable targets. The only regulation of behaviour which works is knowing your customer base will fuck off to your competitor at the drop of a hat.

  3. Do you commute in the SE of England too, Rob?

    Yep, “whooshers” are a common occurrence.

    Could be solved, I think, with a single line in the contract (or relevant law, as this is the State) saying, “you may not skip scheduled stops in order to make up time”.

    A little good news, maybe, is that the greedy rail scum thought they’d have an exemption from the new UK consumer rights law. They’ve just been told to F-off:

    “The government has decided that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 should apply in full to all transport services, including mainline passenger rail services, from 1 October 2016.”

    Still need to do something about the unionised rail “workers”, though. I’d put in a strike ban on any job that is in any way taxpayer funded. Taxpayers can’t strike, so why can tax receivers?

  4. Back when I worked in the civil service we had targets that ministers were promised would be met. As individuals and as an office we had to meet those targets.
    Two big ones were ‘65% of new claims processed within 13 weeks’ and ‘no more than 5% of claims over 12 months old’.
    The last was pretty hard because of the first one – I could not do a major push and get rid of all my old claims as it would push me below that 65% target.
    So had at any one time usually a half dozen old claims that were ready but could not be finished because I needed to get so many new claims under 13 weeks done first.
    Couldn’t do the few claims that were ready in 4 weeks, had to sit on them until approaching the 13 weeks – or let them roll over that time – in order to meet the target overall.

    Would have been a lot easier if it was simply ‘claims will be dealt with as quickly as possible’.

  5. Anyone has the same sort of shit with their GP?

    No-one’s supposed to wait more than two weeks for an appointment, so the receptionist just refuses to book appointments if they are full for two weeks.

    Target achieved, but taxpayer/patient gets nothing.

  6. @Cynic ‘Could be solved, I think, with a single line in the contract (or relevant law, as this is the State) saying, “you may not skip scheduled stops in order to make up time”.’

    You’re no kind of a cynic – not if you imagine that the government wants to admit that it presides over a country in which train delays are going up!

  7. Anyone has the same sort of shit with their GP?

    I had exactly that shit with a GP, in the early 2000s.

    I had had a medical for some private health insurance. As part of that medical, a blood sample was taken, and some sort of very minor infection was spotted. I needed to make an appointment to discuss the results.

    Now, being a software engineer type that works mainly with Septics, I tend to get up late and work late. So I would get out of bed, around 10am-ish usually, and try and book the appointment. “Sorry, we’re full for today and tomorrow,” said the receptionist. “Fine, ” said I, “how about next week sometime, it’s not at all urgent.” “No can do, sorry”. Repeat a couple of times until I gave up; never did find out what the issue was.

  8. Nothing can destroy an organisation quicker than imposing unattainable targets, while simultaneously having some mantra about targets having to be “realistic, challenging, attainable, …”. How to crash employee-management trust in one quick e-mail.

  9. @ Martin
    If you’re quoting the rules correctly, it wasn’t just the rules that created your problem. If 65% of *new* claims had to be dealt with within 13 weeks that doesn’t stop you dealing with them in 4 weeks provided you make the effort to clear up the old ones.
    It sounds like your boss was applying the 65% to cases exiting, not entering, the system.

  10. @Interested

    Chuckle. “Could” was doing an awful lot of work in my sentence. You’re right, really unlikely it’d ever happen.

    That said, I didn’t expect the consumer rights thing either, so sometimes I am surprised.

  11. Metrics was the rage in the 1980s. Management, egged on by the consultants, directed that we use metrics.

    The birth of bogus metrics. Management, eager to please, asked, “What can we measure?” Not, “What should we measure?” My particular work was more like art, and what could be measured was banal.

    Bogus metrics are a symptom of managements’ inability to evaluate employees’ performance, and their quest for “objective” performance reviews.

  12. @Gamecock,

    I heard so many times “we’re measuring xyz just to see. don’t worry, it’s just for info and it won’t become a target”.

    3 months later, “we’ve noticed a significant difference in xyz between the 2 sites. There’s now a target to reduce this difference”…


  13. Interesting indeed: I was sat two nights ago with two New York bankers just off Times Square and they mentioned that their fastest growing competitor is Wells Fargo, who have always been big in the US but have recently started to branch out overseas. This at least explains how they’re managing it.

  14. When I did some work for an aerospace company targets were forbidden, a guy stamps his work as complete, if he wants to
    Check it 3 times and another guy only checks once before stamping then that’s up to them.
    Incentives that would encourage people to speed up or cut corners were also forbidden.
    Doesn’t mean we didn’t measure stuff and look at variances, though the lack of pressure from no targets seemed to lead to much more productive discussions.

  15. This doesn’t surprise me. Dish Network ran promotions where an employee would get $2 for every customer they added HBO for. Obviously there was a huge problem with accounts getting HBO added without the customer’s permission.

    To address this every time HBO was sold it had to go through sales confirmation. During the next promotion sales by sales confirmation agents jumped dramatically. The agents were cancelling the work order and making a new one so they would get the credit.

    When I left the bonus plan worked very well for our call center. Employees where evaluated using existing metrics that made sense. The top performers were given salary multipliers. I remember 250% for being top 1% and 100% for being top 10%. There were lower brackets as well. I don’t remember what they were. I stepped down from the training department(I knew I was changing jobs in a few months anyway) and only remember the brackets I was in. 100% sticks out as I was 72nd out of 7093 employees for a month. My best ranking was 2nd. The key to gaming the system was to work as much overtime, which was always available, as possible.

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