What the Wells Fargo Crackdown Signals to Corporate America

Even with the appointment of four new directors by the year’s end, the Federal Reserve stopped short of ordering any to step down immediately, nor was anyone in senior management identified as acting improperly.

The central bank sent letters to the former chief executive John G. Stumpf and to the former chairman Stephen W. Sanger, criticizing their performance as “an example of ineffective oversight that is not consistent with the Federal Reserve’s expectations” for a bank of its size and scope.

Wells Fargo’s attitude seems to be that the order is more of a legacy cost for past misconduct than a censure of its current operations. In a statement issued by the bank, its chief executive, Timothy J. Sloan, said: “It is important to note that the consent order is not related to any new matters, but to prior issues where we have already made significant progress.”

Even the limitations on growth don’t seem to be too much of a stumbling block. Mr. Sloan said on a conference call with analysts that “we want to have this cap lifted as soon as…

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