Most major American corporations develop and implement an ethics and compliance (E&C) program. However, too often, the ethics division of these programs falls to the wayside, with companies putting more focus on legal compliance rather than creating an ethical corporate culture. While it is true that compliance can technically function without an ethics component, a robust ethics program can be an extremely efficient way for a company to promote legal compliance, as well as consumer trust and loyalty.
Following the 2016 Wells Fargo scandal in which the bank opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts to collect fees, federal regulators have worked to address and respond to the corporation’s illegal conduct. On February 2nd, 2018, the U.S. Federal Reserve imposed unprecedented restrictions against Wells Fargo & Co. when it capped the bank’s growth for 2018 such that it could not exceed the total assets owned at the end of 2017. This restriction marks a substantial departure from previous penalties issued for improper compliance. Changes in policies and procedures and this novel punishment reflect a notable shift in the national bank’s expectations of corporate directors.