Berger Leadership Blog

Sep 27, 2016

The collapse of leadership

Credit unions ARE different than banks, and they’re sure as heck different than Wells Fargo. It’s true that any financial institution could get caught missing a disclosure or committing some other compliance oversight, but what I’m referring to here are big-picture differences – systemic differences. A collapse of leadership.

Wells Fargo’s fraudulent creation of 2 million “ghost” accounts wasn’t a scheme involving two people or even two dozen people – but 5,300 people. I’ll note that last part again: 5,300 people. For something of this magnitude to occur over a period of years, there was a clear focus on profit over people and a complete lack of respect for customers. This is the leadership collapse I’m referring to.

Berger speaking

At your institution or company, you must continue to be a leader in both voice and deeds. And as a leader, you must have an ongoing discussion with your team about what is expected in terms of how you treat your members (or customers). In addition, you must make sure you have reviewed your internal processes so they have effective checks and balances. 

Wells Fargo’s leadership is about to face its second grilling by lawmakers, this time during a hearing Thursday by the House Financial Services Committee. As we watch this discussion, let’s take it as a reminder of the possible irreparable damage that can occur when there is a collapse in leadership.

Regulators and internal compliance systems find occasional oversights in every industry, including financial institutions. But you can prevent a collapse in leadership at your organization.

Talk to consumers about what makes you different, like your structure and ownership. Talk to your employees about how you expect your members to be treated. And talk to your team about your internal processes. By being proactive and continuously communicating expectations, you can prevent a collapse in leadership.