Wells Fargo warns there may be more bad news to come

Expanded internal review of bank operations is nearing completion

By any measure, it's been a rough 11 months for Wells Fargo. And the rough ride may not be over yet.

It was just about a year ago that the bank disclosed that employees had opened checking and credit card accounts in customers' names without their consent, presumably to generate additional fees.

In recent weeks, as the bank has struggled to improve its image on Wall Street, top executives have hesitated to say that all the bad news is out there, and the company can finally move on from the scandal.

Now, Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan, in a message to Wells Fargo employees, has warned that the bank's internal review of its operations, conducted by a third party investigative team, could bring about additional unwanted attention.

Expanded review

The review covers an expanded time period -- 2009 through 2016 -- and examined account usage patterns. Sloan said it was instructed to "err on the side of the customer" in determining which accounts are included as "potentially unauthorized."

In a lengthy memo published as a press release, Sloan said the results of the reviews, when they are published in the coming weeks, will probably "generate news headlines," suggesting there may be more questionable activities that have been uncovered. As bad as the news might be, Sloan suggests the report will finally put a cap on the unauthorized accounts scandal.

"We believe our analysis of accounts will be complete," Sloan wrote in the memo. "We are going to spend the next several months issuing refunds and account credits to the customers we have just identified through our completed analysis and processing claims submitted in our class-action settlement. And even after that, we will always welcome any customer who comes to us with a concern."

What Wells Fargo has already done

Sloan also recounted the steps the bank has already taken to make things right for customers. Among them is the elimination of product sales goals, the introduction of new compensation and management programs that reward improving customers' experience, and beefing up oversight and risk control.

Sloan says Wells Fargo has paid out more than $5 million so far in customer remediation and refunds. The bank also reached a $142 million class-action settlement with customers covering retail sales practices and unauthorized accounts dating back to 2002. The settlement will also compensate customers who saw their credit ratings fall as a result of doing business with the bank.

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