John Stumpf, the embattled chief executive officer of Wells Fargo, is stepping down. He will be replaced by chief operating officer and president Tim Sloan.
In a statement announcing his immediate retirement, Stumpf said, “New leadership at this time is appropriate to guide Wells Fargo through its current challenges.”
The San Francisco–based bank has been mired in controversy since it emerged last month that employees would routinely open accounts for customers without their permission to meet sales targets. More than 2 million accounts were allegedly opened without customers’ knowledge and Wells Fargo was forced to pay regulators an $185 million settlement and fire more than 5,000 employees over the practice.
You may remember Stumpf from the viscous lambasting he received during congressional hearings last month. One particularly brutal exchange with Elizabeth Warren — in which she called him “gutless” and demanded his resignation — actually went viral.
Under pressure from the Senate Banking Committee, Stumpf agreed to give up his $41 million in stock awards, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy critics who continued to call for his resignation or even for Wells Fargo to be broken up.
Things got even worse for the bank and its CEO on Sunday when Vice News released documents showing that a Wells Fargo employee had tried to warn executives at the bank about unethical behavior as far back as 2005.
Stumpf’s resignation may have an air of the inevitable today, but until recently it would have been unimaginable. Under Stumpf’s purview Wells Fargo became the most valuable bank on Earth — though, thanks to recent scandals, it lost that title to JPMorgan Chase in September.