Wells Fargo faces shareholders, protesters at annual meeting

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Shareholders irritated by the fallout from Wells Fargo’s sales practices scandal sent a warning to the bank’s executives and board, with some directors barely holding onto their jobs Tuesday in what is typically a symbolic vote.

The shareholder meeting was the first time Wells Fargo had met collectively with its investors since acknowledging last fall that its employees opened up to 2 million bank accounts without getting customers’ authorization in order to meet unrealistic sales quotes.

While all 15 board members kept their positions for another year, four directors received backing of 60 percent or less. That included Chairman Stephen Sanger, who received 56 percent support.

“Wells Fargo shareholders today have sent the entire board a clear message of dissatisfaction,” Sanger said.

Although shareholders voted everyone in, they were clearly unhappy. All the directors who were at Wells Fargo before the scandal broke got 80 percent or less of shareholders’ votes, based on preliminary results. The three who got 99 percent were CEO Tim Sloan –who got his job in October after former CEO John Stumpf departed — and two independent directors who started earlier this year. Last year, Wells’ board got approvals from at least 90 percent of shareholders — a common level at big corporations.