Wells Fargo Fires Bankers for Expense Policy Violations

WF crushing it, just saw this on WSJ. Expensing meals early is apparently a fireable offense at Wells. https://www.wsj.com/articles/wells-fargo-fires-ban...

Comments (78)

Funniest
Aug 30, 2018

palpatine

Unfortunately, WF taught its bankers everything it knew, then its bankers expensed meals early in its sleep. Ironic. WF encourages bankers to fake accounts and expenses for customers... but not for themselves.

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Aug 30, 2018

Wish I could give multiple SBs for this reference. Well done

Aug 30, 2018

A truly incredible piece of memery

Aug 30, 2018

Prequel memes for life

Your memes are very impressive. You must be very proud.

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Aug 30, 2018

Excellent. +SB

Site note - they could have done better than Hayden Christensen.

"We're coming in too hot."

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Aug 31, 2018

Better acting yeah, but he certainly epitomizes what the character of Anakin Skywalker "looks like"

Given the impending Anakin cameo in Ep. 9, and the $$$ coming from merch, video games, etc; in the long-run the decision was a fine one

Sep 7, 2018

If you work for a good tech company, they will give you food in the office for free.

Aug 30, 2018

This isn't WF only issue - most of the BBs have done something similar over the last couple of years and put stronger systems in place and/or got people in trouble. Unfortunately "well people have been doing it for years" or "everyone does it" defense didn't fly. Same with cab / Uber receipt.

Aug 30, 2018

What's idiotic to me is that this seems to be just about ordering meals early, not people forging expenses. Like if you order a meal at 6:00 instead of 6:30, which seems ridiculous to me.

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Aug 30, 2018
NuclearPenguins:

What's idiotic to me is that this seems to be just about ordering meals early, not people forging expenses. Like if you order a meal at 6:00 instead of 6:30, which seems ridiculous to me.

Perhaps they were doctoring the times and not staying as late as they claimed? I know a few banks in our city that have fired people for expense abuse (ordering something and sharing it with a gf, ubering to/from non-office/non-work locations)

Aug 30, 2018

Yeah that could be. Wonder how they'd check if you weren't staying late enough for the meals though.

Aug 31, 2018

Could pull badge times from the building entrance to see when you last left for the night.

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Aug 31, 2018

Ah is that standard? At both my old and current firm you leave without signing out.

Sep 3, 2018

Banks do this when they are struggling and want to lay people off without the negative appearance of a layoff. There's nothing unethical about most of the Seamless "violations" that the knuckleheads in compliance warn you about. Most of it involves getting the meal earlier even tough the banker is working late anyways.

Aug 30, 2018

That is pretty harsh. I wonder if they fired someone who got hungry at 6:20 rather than 6:30 and then proceeded to work until 3 or 4 in the morning...

On the other hand, there is always that person who orders dinner at the office on Friday at 5:30, meets the delivery guy downstairs, and heads home with it. Less sympathy there.

Aug 30, 2018

Why don't they give a heads-up and just take the money out of the analyst's salary or something? Feel that's more reasonable than firing someone and going through the hiring process

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Aug 30, 2018

Because it's fraud

Aug 30, 2018

Which Wells clearly has such a problem with...

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Aug 30, 2018

You obviously didn't see their ads. They're very sorry. For real. They said so.

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Aug 30, 2018

Right right. I forgot that they we're re-established this year. I guess that's a sort of ethical chapter 11 relieving them off any prior moral obligations...

Aug 30, 2018

It's kinda sad that the first thing that popped up in my mind was... when are full time apps opening up again?

I am the real boss baby.

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Aug 30, 2018

I know this seems like a harsh reaction for a small offense. But technically they defrauded the company. They submitted and signed documents with information they falsified, specifically for the purpose of going around the stated reimbursement policy and getting paid.

I think many places would slap someone on the wrist for this, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was done with a wink and a nod from upper management. It also wouldn't completely surprise me if certain high performers who got mixed up in this received more lenient treatment. But this is Wells Fargo. Unless you've been under a rock lately you know they've got a culture problem with issues just like this, and they're desperate to fix it. I feel for those who lost their jobs over something so small. But at the same time, come on. No one should have known better that it was a stupid time to play fast and loose with the rules.

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Aug 30, 2018

I'm shocked to see people defending this.
Did you not read the article? Doctoring receipts seems like clear cut fraud.
Can't imagine working for an MD who's judgement is so poor that they commit fraud to get $20 worth of Chinese food. Seriously, who does that?

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Aug 30, 2018

I highly doubt they got rid of MDs for just that. It was likely worse they just are able to bucket them in there too.

Aug 30, 2018

You'd be surprised. It happens more than you might think. People who have a lot of money tend to have a way-above-average appreciation for how quickly money compounds, and it sometimes tempts them to do stupid things.

Sep 3, 2018

What does fraud even mean? Seriously. I hear that word thrown around a lot lately, usually by people who are trying to make a big deal about something that isn't really a big deal. Whether it's a US president paying off a porn star or an analyst getting an early meal, it seems like some people care way too much about stuff and start yelling "fraud".

Sep 3, 2018

Sorry - not formatting well but there are six factors here:

fraudulent misrepresentation when six factors have been met:

  1. A representation was made
  2. the representation was false
    that when made,
  3. . the defendant knew that the representation was false or that the defendant made the statement recklessly without knowledge of its truth
  4. that the fraudulent misrepresentation was made with the intention that the plaintiff rely on it
  5. that the plaintiff did rely on the fraudulent misrepresentation
    6.. that the plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the fraudulent misrepresentation
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Sep 4, 2018

I think we've got the first 5, but 6 doesn't hold up. Not seeing any harm if it's just a technical breaking of the rules (i.e. someone was entitled to the meal anyway and just got it early).

Sep 4, 2018

I only provided the elements of fraud. I did say anyone violated them. But if one did cheat their employer by gaining more than they were entitled they may have violated #6.

Sep 5, 2018

That's correct, you didn't say anyone violated them. And I didn't say you said anyone violated them.

Sep 3, 2018

Clear cut fraud? Ordering dinner an hour early when you're working late regardless and changing the time on the receipt because they have an arbitrary time cut-off should not be grounds for being fired right before bonus.

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Sep 4, 2018

Exactly. It's a shame some of our fellow monkeys here don't have any common sense, based on the hysterics around the technical definition of fraud.

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Aug 30, 2018

They reported "a dozen" layoffs, but it was closer to ~30.

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Most Helpful
Aug 30, 2018

Their peers turned them in. Looks like some internal backstabbing/gamesmanship more than the results of an errant investigation.

WF never wanted to be at the top of the league table and they're actively reducing syndications and DCM. Sounds like they were looking to reduce staff and these folks volunteered.

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Aug 30, 2018

Nope, they hired an outside accountant to audit

Sep 3, 2018

An outside accountant audits when people are leaving the office?

Sep 3, 2018

Bingo.

Aug 30, 2018

Rumor has it was mostly analysts and associates who were the culprits. Since the layoffs several senior bankers, including all (or nearly all) VPs and up in one vertical quit and went to another bank in response.

Aug 31, 2018

Do you happen to know which group/vertical that is?

Aug 31, 2018

Industrials. Not sure which vertical.

Sep 3, 2018

It was across many groups

Sep 4, 2018

Aerospace & Defense

Aug 31, 2018

Sorry but I doubt that. A group of officers uprooted themselves, forfeited unvested stock options, etc. to protest analysts getting fired for expense account irregularities?

Aug 31, 2018

I know it for a fact. Buddy works in the group.

Aug 31, 2018

Can anyone else confirm that this is true? That sounds ludicrous.

Sep 4, 2018

Can confirm. It wasn't just about this, it was a long time coming. They were the only ones in the group making any money.

Sep 3, 2018

It's very plausible. Not out of protest. But for two other reasons:

  1. They lost most or all of their junior team in the purge, that's a real problem.
  2. Since there was likely some stealth layoff aspect to the bank purging the juniors (i.e. business is struggling, need to layoff people anyway so let's make up a scandal) the senior team may have already had their eye on the door.
Aug 30, 2018

I worked for Wells Fargo in their multifamily real estate capital group and I traveled extensively. I always got the cheapest flight, the cheapest car, the cheapest hotel, and the cheapest meals. My colleagues would abuse the fuck out of the expense program, staying at expensive hotels in hot locations, renting nice cars, and going to expensive restaurants. For whatever reason, I just always felt an ethical duty to my employer to not abuse the system.

Aug 31, 2018

The banks policies are clearly outlined. Our travel is booked according to these. Staying at a 4-star hotel for a week during MPs isn't the crime you make it out to be. If people are staying at the Four Seasons, Ritz, etc., which is obviously unnecessary, the MD in charge of the client relationship has to answer to the expenses, so it doesn't affect you.

Occasionally, I found myself feeling the same way you do. But, when I was working until 4am back-to-back nights creating some bullshit ad hoc analysis because the CFO couldn't figure out how to use the ERP system effectively and efficiently, I quickly got over that and made sure to order $50 of room service for morning breakfast.

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Aug 31, 2018
Bullet-Tooth Tony:

The banks policies are clearly outlined. Our travel is booked according to these. Staying at a 4-star hotel for a week during MPs isn't the crime you make it out to be.

I didn't say it was a crime or a violation of policy. I'm saying I never felt comfortable pushing the limits of the expense reimbursement policy. Loyal employees SHOULD feel a responsibility to their employer's bottom line.

Aug 31, 2018

You don't think many of these dinners were expensed to clients?

Aug 31, 2018
Bullet-Tooth Tony:

You don't think many of these dinners were expensed to clients?

No, we didn't expense to clients. We produced revenue from closing and servicing fees as well as interest rate spreads. Travel was part of the company's overhead.

Aug 31, 2018

In many IBs, you expense it to the client per the terms of the engagement letter.

Sep 3, 2018

You sound like one of those guys who does the dishes without his wife even asking.

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Sep 5, 2018
real_Skankhunt42:

I didn't say it was a crime or a violation of policy. I'm saying I never felt comfortable pushing the limits of the expense reimbursement policy. Loyal employees SHOULD feel a responsibility to their employer's bottom line.

In theory, I agree with you, but in reality this concept of how a business should function has been dead for decades, especially at a large financial institution like WF. The question of loyalty should go both ways; Wells Fargo isn't entitled to have its employees look out for it's bottom line (beyond the basic needs of performing one's job to an acceptable standard) if it isn't willing to consider those employees as something other than a pay stub to be issued every two weeks. When firms gave their employees the security of future employment and decent benefits that wouldn't be yanked, it was in the best interest of the employees to reciprocate by making sure the institution standing behind them was itself in good financial standing.

Now? Well, look at this story. WF went ahead and purged junior staff because they ordered food early. While that may technically be fraudulent, it's hard to sympathize with the institution, given that many of these kids are working massive hours most days and should probably be entitled to more than $25 worth of dinner for the six hours they put in after everyone else leaves. Not to mention that in most cases, they could have sat on their ass for another 30 minutes and had this all been by the book. Firing them because they jumped the gun by a few minutes is unconscionable. Without excusing what the junior bankers did, the response is perfectly indicative of why companies don't get the kind of exemplary loyalty that you are describing.

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Aug 31, 2018

Oh yeah for sure. $75 per day while traveling was our policy. You can guarantee if I hated the client even if I flew out at like 10pm I'd get like a $50 meal easy at the airport or something.

Aug 31, 2018

I doubt a bank making 90 billion a year in revenue is hurting too much with you maxing out your expense budget.

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Sep 2, 2018
real_Skankhunt42:

I worked for Wells Fargo in their multifamily real estate capital group and I traveled extensively. I always got the cheapest flight, the cheapest car, the cheapest hotel, and the cheapest meals. My colleagues would abuse the fuck out of the expense program, staying at expensive hotels in hot locations, renting nice cars, and going to expensive restaurants. For whatever reason, I just always felt an ethical duty to my employer to not abuse the system.

There is often wisdom in the crowd, but this is one of the rare times when I can honestly say that I'm disappointed in the opinion of the WSO crowd. Like that one time when I criticized crony capitalism in investment banking--that also got overwhelmingly monkey shitted.

Sep 3, 2018

Surprised how much MS you got for that. My feelings are in line with yours, but I'm at a smaller place and can demonstrate my thriftiness benefits the bottom line.

I think a lot of the responses are just visceral reactions to their own companies' expense constraints.

Aug 31, 2018

I'm guessing this also may have been a way to stealthily lay people off without labeling it as such and avoid paying severance. Definitely not a coincidence that the investigation happened right before bonuses.

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Aug 31, 2018

Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there" - Will Rogers

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Aug 31, 2018

.

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Aug 31, 2018

.

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Aug 31, 2018

I wonder if any summer interns were affected, offers pulled for this scandal.

Aug 31, 2018

Seems to me the bank might have been looking for an excuse to cull their IB division and these people delivered themselves on a silver platter. Stick to the published rules and per-diem and you have no issues.

That whole place seems to be a mess; they're back on the news again this morning... maybe they just need to dismantle and rebuild themselves from the ground up.

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Aug 31, 2018

This isn't fraud if the people changing the receipts thought their meal expenses were being rejected because of an error in an automated system. Like if their policy states $25 for dinner if working after 7pm, and analysts order at 6:45pm with the anticipation that they will be working for at least 15 more minutes, then I don't see an issue - they met the criteria for the reimbursement and are being blocked improperly by the automated system. Imagine if they were paying cash and ordering by phone - there would be no issue with calling at 6:45 for delivery after 7pm.

I think it's much more likely that people were just straight up lying about their expenses.

Sep 3, 2018

This isn't fraud

Aug 31, 2018

i think it's curious that an internal whistleblower raised the issue to management. banks have strictly regulated procedures surrounding whistleblowers which include making sure management takes action on any issues raised.

management might've felt like their hands were tied after someone flagged this to them. i wouldn't be shocked at all if the snitch....whoops i mean whistleblower had some other motive besides weirdly strict compliance with late night seamless policy. based on the little i've read, it sounds like a lot of people were canned for breaking early dinner order rules that people violate every night in every bank and law firm across the country. If so, this really sucks and I feel some sympathy for the people let go.

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Sep 1, 2018

Can confirm from friends that people were getting canned for leaving before 8. Kinda ridiculous considering some of those people apparently had worked till 2/3 am the night before and on many other occasions.

Sep 2, 2018

Yet another reason not to work at WF

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Sep 2, 2018

I know a couple of analysts there so I have some insight here and it was not just ordering early, it was falsifying the receipts to change the timestamp (and sometimes the dollar amount), and people also were buying alcohol with their expense dollars (which is against the policy), and using doctored receipts to hide the booze. Obviously, we've all found little expense tips and tricks so it's easy to see the punishment as pretty harsh, but don't really blame management here. Doctoring the receipts isn't an innocent error or little thing, it's a pretty serious incidence of premeditated fraud. For a bank trying to change the culture, stay out of the news, and also cut costs, I get it. Feel bad for the kids, but I get it.

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Sep 3, 2018

Doubt it was changing the dollar amount

Sep 3, 2018

From my knowledge, this is a pretty common practice on the Street. Times have changed though, everything is scrutinized under a microscope.

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Sep 3, 2018
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Sep 5, 2018
Sep 8, 2018