Has Wells Fargo Become the Least Trusted Company in the Banking Industry?

Has Wells Fargo Become the Least Trusted Company in the Banking Industry?

Here we go again. I thought things couldn’t get much worse for the Wells Fargo brand after the public learned that a group of “rogue employees” had opened as many as 3.5 million phony accounts in order to meet the mega-bank’s ever-increasing demand for more business. But things there were much darker than I could have imagined.

It turns out that the bank has been cheating their customers in other ways as well.

According to published reports, the bank forced some 800,000 customers who financed their car purchases to buy collision insurance they didn’t need. As a result, 274,000 of those borrowers were forced into delinquency and 25,000 cars were wrongly repossessed. Wells Fargo may have pocketed $73 million of money on the deal but it’s going to cost them a lot more than that in restitution and penalties.

The bad news doesn’t end there.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco is going after Wells Fargo for failing to make refunds on guaranteed auto protection insurance to people who paid off their car loans early. The effects are still being calculated, but there could be tens of thousands of customers who were ripped off here.  

Lastly, there’s the investigation by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into the potential damage Wells Fargo caused customers by either freezing or closing accounts suspected of being affected by fraudulent activity.

Is it any wonder Wells Fargo is the least trusted company in the banking industry?

In an annual survey benchmarking the level of trust that consumers have with major companies, 11 of the 12 least trusted companies were TV/internet service providers or health plans. And Wells Fargo. In a companion survey gauging how likely consumers are to forgive companies after they make a mistake, Wells Fargo had the biggest decline of any bank. Not surprisingly, Wells Fargo didn’t make Fortune’s list of the world’s most admired companies.

Related: 3 Reasons Why Writers Should Write More

When he took over as the embattled mega-bank’s CEO last October, Tim Sloan listed “rebuilding trust” as his highest priority for the firm. He’s obviously still got a lot of work to do, but so does the banking industry as a whole. In the annual Gallup Poll on Honesty/Ethics in Professions, 30% of respondents indicated they don’t have a very high opinion of bankers’ ethical standards. Actually, other than healthcare workers, Americans don’t really have a lot of respect for the ethics of most professions, especially members of Congress, the only group for which a majority of Americans (59%) rate honesty and ethical standards as low or very low.

Wells Fargo CEO Sloan’s message to employees after the insurance scandal broke: “To regain the trust we have lost, we must continue to be transparent with all our stakeholders and go beyond what has been asked of us by our regulators by reviewing all of our operations—leaving no stone unturned—so we can be confident we have done all that we can do to build a better, stronger Wells Fargo.”

Those are the right words, now it’s up to Sloan and everyone else at Wells Fargo to live up to them. The whole Wells Fargo fiasco should also serve as a cautionary tale for the rest of the banking and financial services industry. And really for any business, because you can never go wrong by doing the right thing in the first place.

Bob Keane
Public Relations
Twitter Email

Bob oversees the development of editorial content for JConnelly and its clients, including strategic messaging, news releases, blogs and other written materials that are vital ... Click for full bio

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

China's Push Toward Excellence Delivers a Global Robotics Investment Opportunity

Written by: Jeremie Capron

China is on a mission to change its reputation from a manufacturer of cheap, mass-produced goods to a world leader in high quality manufacturing. If that surprises you, you’re not the only one.

For decades, China has been synonymous with the word cheap. But times are changing, and much of that change is reliant on the adoption of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”). For investors, this shift is driving a major opportunity to capture growth and returns rooted in China’s rapidly increasing demand for RAAI technologies.

You may have heard of ‘Made in China 2025,’ the strategy announced in 2015 by the central government aimed at remaking its industrial sector into a global leader in high-technology products and advanced manufacturing techniques. Unlike some public relations announcements, this one is much more than just a marketing tagline. Heavily subsidized by the Chinese government, the program is focused on generating major investments in automated manufacturing processes, also referred to as Industry 4.0 technologies, in an effort to drive a massive transformation across every sector of manufacturing. The program aims to overhaul the infrastructure of China’s manufacturing industry by not only driving down costs, but also—and perhaps most importantly—by improving the quality of everything it manufactures, from textiles to automobiles to electronic components.

Already, China has become what is arguably the most exciting robotics market in the world. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2016 alone, more than 87,000 robots were sold in the country, representing a year-over-year increase of 27%, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Last month’s World Robot Conference 2017 in Beijing brought together nearly 300 artificial intelligence (AI) specialists and representatives of over 150 robotics enterprises, making it one of the world’s largest robotics-focused conference in the world to date. That’s quite a transition for a country that wasn’t even on the map in the area of robotics only a decade ago.

As impressive as that may be, what’s even more exciting for anyone with an eye on the robotics industry is the fact that this growth represents only a tiny fraction of the potential for robotics penetration across China’s manufacturing facilities—and for investors in the companies that are delivering or are poised to deliver on the promise of RAAI-driven manufacturing advancements.

Despite its commitment to leverage the power of robotics, automation and AI to meet its aggressive ‘Made in China 2025’ goals, at the moment China has only 1 robot in place for every 250 manufacturing workers. Compare that to countries like Germany and Japan, where manufacturers utilize an average of one robot for every 30 human workers. Even if China were simply trying to catch up to other countries’ use of robotics, those numbers would signal immense near-term growth. But China is on a mission to do much more than achieve the status quo. The result? According to a recent report by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), in 2019 as much as 40% of the worldwide market volume of industrial robots could be sold in China alone.

To understand how the country can support such grand growth, just take a look at where and why robotics is being applied today. While the automotive sector has historically been the largest buyer of robots, China’s strategy reaches far and wide to include a wide variety of future-oriented manufacturing processes and industries.

Related: Smooth Tomorrow's Market Volatility With a Smart Approach to Robotics & AI

Electronics is a key example. In fact, the electrical and electronics industry surpassed the automotive industry as the top buyer of robotics in 2016, with sales up 75% to almost 30,000 units. Assemblers such as Foxconn rely on thousands of workers to assemble today’s new iPhones. Until recently, the assembly of these highly delicate components required a level of human dexterity that robots simply could not match, as well as human vision to help ensure accuracy and quality. But recent advancements in robotics are changing all that. Industrial robots already have the ability to handle many of the miniature components in today’s smart phones. Very soon, these robots are expected to have the skills to bolster the human workforce, significantly increasing manufacturing capacity. Newer, more dexterous industrial robots are expected to significantly reduce human error during the assembly process of even the most fragile components, including the recently announced OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screens that Samsung and Apple introduced on their latest mobile devices including the iPhone X. Advancements in computer vision are transforming how critical quality checks are performed on these and many other electronic devices. All of these innovations are coming together at just the right time for a country that is striving to create the world’s most advanced manufacturing climate.

Clearly, China’s trajectory in the area of RAAI is in hyper drive. For investors who are seeking a tool to leverage this opportunity in an intelligent and perhaps unexpected way, the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index may help. The ROBO Index already offers a vast exposure to China’s potential growth due to the depth and breadth of the robotics and automation supply chain. As China continues to improve its manufacturing processes to meet its 2025 initiative, every supplier across China’s far-reaching supply chains will benefit. Wherever they are located, suppliers of RAAI-related components—reduction gears, sensors, linear motion systems, controllers, and so much more—are bracing for spikes in demand as China pushes to turn its dream into a reality.

Today, around 13% of the revenues generated by the ROBO Global Index members are driven by China’s investments in robotics and automation. Tomorrow? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for certain: China’s commitment to improving the quality and cost-efficiency of its manufacturing facilities is showing no signs of slowing down—and its reliance on robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence is vital to its success.

Want all the details? Download the ROBO Global Investment Report - Summer Brings Best ROBO Earnings in Six Years or visit us here.

ROBO Global
Robotics and AI
Twitter Email

ROBO Global LLC is the creator of the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index series, which provides comprehensive, transparent and diversified benchmarks representing the ... Click for full bio