(PRBLX holds WFC as its #1 position, added there during the last quarter.)
Due Diligence on Wells Fargo
SAN FRANCISCO, CA, September 27, 2016
You may have seen recent news that Wells Fargo (WF) is facing scrutiny over its cross-selling programs that resulted in employees opening accounts and credit cards for customers without permission. As a significant shareholder and a responsible investment firm, Parnassus Investments is deeply concerned about this information.
We are conducting a thorough due diligence process. We have initiated conversations directly with executive leadership at Wells Fargo, and are currently evaluating and monitoring the various remedies the firm has applied. As additional information becomes available, we will further engage directly with Wells Fargo leadership.
At this time, the Parnassus investment team does not believe there exists a deterioration in WF’s company fundamentals. Wells Fargo management is still working through revisions to their cross-selling policies to remove incentives for practices that could harm customers, employees and the firm’s reputation. Although these new incentive and compensation policies are still in development, WF management has assured Parnassus that the firm and its team members will continue to emphasize deep client relationships.
However, given the circumstances, Parnassus strongly recommends that the Wells Fargo Board of Directors consider pay packages for WF executives who were responsible for the cross-selling programs in accordance with the WF’s claw back policies.
While WF’s responsible investing profile has been temporarily weakened by the firm’s cross-selling practices, it is important to note that the firm has many positive social aspects. Wells Fargo remains one of the largest corporate charitable donors in the U.S., has a strong reputation for promoting diversity and inclusion, and in general is regarded as a positive workplace.
It is our current belief that Wells Fargo has the capacity to recover from the damage that has occurred to its brand, including its relationships with customers, employees and regulators. As more information is made publicly available, we will of course update our evaluation and communicate to our shareholders.
Mutual fund investing involves risk, and loss of principal is possible.