Dear Mr. Sloan,
I don’t envy your new responsibilities as CEO of beleaguered Wells Fargo, from forging fraught decisions in the board room to facing protesters on your own front lawn. No doubt you have been working hard to restore trust in your banking services. In the interests of reshaping the WF image,I assume, our PMA account package has just been re-branded as “Portfolio,” and functions like Bill Pay have been been redesigned to improve our “online banking experience”. Statements have been made about ending aggressive sales practices and withholding executive bonuses.
Yet there remains (for me) the more serious issue of Wells Fargo’s shortsighted investment strategies–most notably its massive financial support for retrograde fossil fuel projects like the Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s true that virtually every major investor holds petroleum stocks, so vastly profitable for so very long. Still, the terrifying realities of climate change are speeding the move from coal, oil, and gas to renewable energy such as solar and wind. Even pragmatic China is investing some $360 billions in renewable energy.
Seattle has divested its Wells Fargo stock. Yale, Stanford, and the University of California are in various stages of divestment from fossil fuels. Some analysts have questioned the financial effectiveness of divestment as a tool. Nonetheless, to keep one’s own funds from being used destructively is not only symbolic. The Dakota Access Pipeline will carry as much as 570,00 gallons of crude oil per day, and whether it is used only domestically as was originally claimed, or exported, as is now permitted, the resultant environmental pollution will be shared globally.
Several friends have asked me to report if and when I can locate a socially responsible bank. I think that I have. These quite prosperous citizens all bank with Wells Fargo and dread the mechanics of changing, as do I.
My husband and I have been with Wells Fargo even longer than you, Mr. Sloan. We transferred our accounts from Bank of America because of its investment in the apartheid government in South Africa. Protest divestment seems to have worked in that case.
Maybe it will work again, in the best interests of the planet.
I have grandchildren. Do you?