10 who had a rough year in 2017
Move over, Wells Fargo, another prominent financial firm has taken your place as the poster child for bad behavior.
Equifax, the credit reporting agency whose primary responsibility is to protect consumers’ personal information, became public enemy No. 1 this year when it revealed that thieves hacked into its database and stole the personal information — birth dates, credit card data, Social Security numbers — of some 145 million consumers. As bad as the breach was, CEO Rick Smith made it significantly worse by waiting more than a month to make it public.
What happened next was predictable: Outraged lawmakers summoned Smith to Capitol Hill for a public flogging and Smith, who had been CEO of Equifax since 2005, was ultimately out of a job. By any measure, that’s a bad year.
As for Wells Fargo, while it took a number of steps to right the wrong of its phony-accounts scandal, its reputation remains severely damaged. Moreover, its current CEO, Tim Sloan — who replaced John Stumpf last year — continues to be dogged by the perception that he’s too much of a Wells Fargo insider to meaningfully change the bank’s culture. At a separate, equally hostile grilling on Capitol Hill, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, told Sloan he “should be fired” for not reining in the bank’s abusive practices.
Also included in American Banker’s annual “10 who had a rough year” list: the founder of a high-flying fintech who was ousted for sexual misconduct; a longtime community bank CEO; the authors of a discredited research report on peer-to-peer lending; and the federal regulatory agency bankers love to hate.