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Even If Forced Out, Wells Fargo CEO Could Pocket $200 Million as He Walks Out the Door

Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, now the central figure in a national outrage over the company’s creation of fake customer accounts, will likely see hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, even if he is forced to leave his position, reports CNNMoney.


It’s not that Stumpf would realize such a sum on the basis of a generous termination package typically handed out to departing company officers - known as a golden parachute - but, rather, from the accumulated value of the stocks, options, and various bonus awards earned in the nearly-35 total years he has worked at both Wells Fargo and Norwest Corporation, the Midwest banking giant that merged with Wells in 1998.

While there has been no official talk of Stumpf’s departure, the grilling he’s been taking from politicians, as well as from the public, at large, over the widespread culture of fraud allowed to flourish at Wells, has at least raised the prospect that he will be “encouraged” to leave his position, if not terminated outright.

As for how much Stumpf might have in his pockets if he does leave, here is what CNNMoney says he could carry off with him when all is said and done:

  • Over 1.6 million shares of Wells Fargo stock that’s currently valued in the neighborhood of $74 million.

  • Additional cash and pension payments worth over $23 million.

  • Another $42 million or so in currently-unclaimed stock, net of what he would have to pay to exercise the options.

  • Performance shares, 401(k) units, and various awards totaling another $65 million. Some of this would have to be forfeited if Stumpf was explicitly fired “for cause,” but that is seen as unlikely.

Adding to the controversy of his possible “walk-away” compensation is the very idea that he would be see so much money precisely because of the fraudulent practices in which the company engaged for so many years under his watch.

Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management who specializes in the study of management and social responsibility, told CNNMoney that pay earned by Stumpf on the back of the fraudulent sales practices should absolutely be “clawed back” by the Wells board.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large