As details emerge of Wells Fargo’s thousands of bogus accounts, people wonder why such a well-known financial institution would resort to falsehood.
It’s a progressive equation:
1) Stockholders want great investment returns.
2) Wall Street wants great quarterly returns.
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3) People at the top want more money.
4) People beneath are given unrealistic goals and are pressured to meet them.
Do not blame staff for trying to keep their jobs. Do ask what corporate culture allows them to do so unethically.
You won’t find this at cooperative, not-for-profit credit unions. Their board members are volunteers, and they answer to member-owners instead of stockholders. Earnings are returned to members through better rates and lower fees. Credit unions cooperate with account holders and the benefits are mutual.
Before the financial crisis, big banks chasing profit pushed customers to products they did not need or could not afford. That did not happen at credit unions, which for 100-plus years have focused on helping people. That history of integrity, honesty and consumer focus is the one worth repeating.
John Radebaugh, Columbia