Wells Fargo's fake account scandal – Brand impact 8 years later
May 30th, 2024, Kineree Shah

Wells Fargo's fake account scandal – Brand impact 8 years later

In 2016, Wells Fargo was embroiled in a scandal when it was revealed that employees had created millions of unauthorized accounts without customers' knowledge. This led to widespread public outrage, the resignation of top executives, and significant financial penalties. According to data from YouGov BrandIndex, Wells Fargo’s public perception metrics fell significantly during that time. But has it recovered since then?

On August 1, 2016, the Index score (an average across brand overall health, including General Impression, Satisfaction, Quality, Corporate Reputation, Value and Recommendation) was 5.8, but by December 11, 2016, it had plummeted by 17.3 points to -23.1. As of May 21, 2024, it stands at -3.9, indicating some improvement but not a full recovery.

Impression score also took a hit, dropping from 5.4 to -32.6 in the same period (-27.2 points) and now resting at -7.3, showing gradual recovery yet still negative. Quality scores saw a significant drop from 8.7 to -24.9 by December 2016 (-16.2 points), and have improved to -2.4 as of now, suggesting that perceptions of quality are slowly rebuilding. Value scores, initially at -0.8, fell to -24.1 (-23.3 points) but have since improved to -5.8, indicating a modest recovery.

Reputation took a substantial hit, with the score dropping from 13.3 to -24.9 (-11.9 points), and as of May 2024, it stands at -2.3. This shows a near-revival, though it is still slightly negative. Satisfaction scores have seen a positive change. Initially at 6.2, they dropped to -2.2 (-4 points) but have since climbed back up to 3.4, indicating that customer satisfaction has returned to positive territory.

Recommendation scores, which fell from 2.2 to -29.7 (-27.5 points), are now at -9.3, showing some recovery but still reflecting lingering negative sentiment. Consideration provides a more positive outlook. Starting at 15.2%, it dropped to 8.4% but has since recovered to 11%, indicating that more customers are once again considering Wells Fargo for their banking needs, despite the scandal's lasting impact.

Overall, while some metrics show significant recovery, others remain in negative territory, highlighting the ongoing challenges Wells Fargo faces in fully regaining customer trust and improving its brand perception.

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Methodology: YouGov BrandIndex collects data on thousands of brands every day. Wells Fargo’s scores are based on an average daily sample size of 6905-8650 US adults between August 1, 2016, to May 21, 2024. Figures are based on a 12-week moving average.

Photo by Deane Bayas