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This bank has committed $125 billion — yes, billion — to mortgages for Hispanics

Jane Wooldridge, Miami Herald on

Published in Home and Consumer News

MIAMI -- Any company with a 166-year-history is likely to have ups and downs. For banking giant Wells Fargo, the last few years have definitely been a low.

In 2016, following an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, the bank disclosed that its sales force had potentially created millions of fake accounts in order to meet sales quotas. The final number was 3.5 million accounts.

Last summer, Wells Fargo said it may have enrolled and charged car insurance for up to 570,000 auto loan borrowers without their knowledge; as many as 20,000 of those customers may have lost their vehicles partly because of that added expense. The company also has been sued over other shoddy sales practices.

In the aftermath of the 2016 scandal, then-chairman and chief executive John Stumpf stepped down. He was replaced as chief executive by long-time company executive Tim Sloan.

Today, Wells Fargo is the nation's third largest bank by market value. It has 263,000 employees nationwide, with 8,300 locations and 180 ATMS. In Miami-Dade County, the company has almost 2,000 employees, with 66 branches and 180 ATMs.

Sloan, who is based at the company's San Francisco headquarters, visited South Florida for a keynote "fireside chat" Tuesday at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's annual economic summit. About 350 gathered for the event.

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The Miami Herald talked with Sloan in an exclusive one-on-one interview. The executive -- who visited Lauderdale by the Sea as a child for an annual family vacation -- shared his views on his company and the economy. Here's an excerpt from the conversation.

Q: Your company has been in the news for some deceptive practices. What do you tell customers to restore their confidence?

A: You need to reinforce to them that we take responsibility for any of the mistakes we've made. I want to put that context; Wells Fargo is celebrating 166 years in business this year and we have not had similar challenges to what we had in 2017 throughout that entire period.

Second, you need to look internally and fix anything that needs to be fixed, and we're in the process of doing that. And then to the extent that any customer was impacted by any of the mistakes you made, you need to make it right by them, and we're in the process of doing that.

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