Happy hump day. Dan DeFrancesco in the Big Apple, and I’m loving this New York story about the internet’s newest obsession with nepotism in Hollywood. Wall Street, obviously, is no stranger to nepotism either, which made me curious: What’s your favorite family lineage in finance? Drop me a line with some suggestions.
Today, we’ve got stories on the latest in the FTX debacle, layoffs at Tom Brady’s crypto company, and why your chances of getting a new car for the holidays are looking slim.
But first, Wells Fargo heads to the penalty box, again.
1. Wells Fargo faces the music.
The regulators have once again come knocking at Wells Fargo, and it ain’t pretty.
Wells Fargo was ordered to pay $2 billion back to customers and pay a $1.7 billion civil penalty by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for illegal activity involving auto loans, mortgages, and deposit accounts that impacted over 16 million accounts.
Here’s a rundown of what the CFPB investigation uncovered:
- Wrongfully repossessing borrowers’ vehicles, in addition to incorrectly charging fees and interest on auto loans.
- Denying changes to mortgages that led to wrongful foreclosures on some customers’ homes.
- Surprise overdraft fees, which occurred even though customers had enough money in their accounts.
- Freezing access to accounts due to a faulty automated filter, which led to customers being locked out of their account for, on average, two weeks.
And while $3.7 billion is quite a large amount of money, it’s not unfamiliar territory for the bank.
Less than three years ago, Wells paid $3 billion to settle an investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission around its fake-account scandal, which involved employees setting up millions of fraudulent accounts for customers without their knowledge in an effort to meet unrealistic sales targets.
The latest fine won’t come as a complete shock to the bank. Wells has already paid out $1.3 billion to 11 million accounts related to auto-loan-servicing issues, the CFPB said. Charlie Scharf, the bank’s CEO, understood the mess he was getting when he took over the bank in 2019. (Check out our org chart on the changes that Scharf has made among Wells’ leadership since he took over.)
But Scharf still needs to contend with an asset cap imposed by the Federal Reserve that limits the bank’s growth. And as the fines continue to pile up, some will ask the question: Can Wells ever straighten itself out?
For Scharf’s part, this is all part of a transformation that needed to take place at the bank.
“We have made significant progress over the last three years and are a different company today,” Scharf said in a statement. “We remain committed to doing the right thing for our customers and working closely with our regulators and others to deal appropriately with any issue that arises.”
But others, including the regulators themselves, might beg to differ.
“Wells Fargo is a corporate recidivist,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra told reporters on a call Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal, adding that the settlement “should not be read as a sign that Wells Fargo has moved past its longstanding problems.”
In other news:
2. Your (PE-backed) doctor will now see you. Private-equity firms see a big opportunity buying up companies staffing hospitals’ emergency rooms with doctors. But the investment hasn’t come without controversy, the Financial Times reports. Inside PE’s push into healthcare.
3. From “The Great Resignation” to “Quiet Quitting,” these are the trends that defined the workplace in 2022. Experts broke down what was a wild year in the labor market, and made some predictions for what to expect in 2023. Here’s what the workplace will look like next year. And while we’re at, here are some picks from VCs on the hottest future-of-work trends in 2023.
4. So about that donation… FTX is trying to claw back donations and political contributions as it looks to put a dent in the massive amount of money it owes creditors. Meanwhile, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried appeared to be caught taking a little tiger snooze during his extradition hearing. And a small New England town where an FTX exec bought $6 million worth of real estate and restaurants is getting worried.
5. It wasn’t all bad news for startups this year. There were 174 US startups that reached unicorn status (a valuation of at least $1 billion) at some point this year. And while some have already seen those drop, and more could follow, it’s still an interesting look at the state of the startup community. From film studio A24 to cloud-storage provider Wasabi Technologies, these are the 174 US startups that hit the unicorn mark.
6. An NFT platform cofounded by Tom Brady just laid off dozens of employees. Autograph, whose board included the recording artist known as the Weeknd, closed earlier this year a $170 million Series B round that was led by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins. More on the cuts here.
7. THL just bought a majority stake in a company that helps marketers manage promotional materials. The PE firm agreed to buy a stake in Bynder, which works with companies like Spotify, Puma, and KLM, in a deal valuing it at over $600 million. Here’s why THL wants in on the digital-asset-management space.
8. There’s parties, and then there’s renting out an entire island in the Maldives and goodie bags with Dior jewelry. The CEO of a concierge company for VIPs explains what it’s like planning parties with multimillion-dollar budgets. Take a peek inside how the ultra-wealthy party.
9. Wellness perks are all the rage in luxury homes, but not the kind you think. The wealthy aren’t as interested in gyms and swimming pools these days. Instead, they want plunge pools and infrared saunas in their high-end houses. Two brokers featured on “Million Dollar Listing” break down what’s in at luxury homes.
10. This December might not actually be one to remember. Sellers of big bows for cars, which became a staple of popular culture thanks to Lexus’ holiday commercials, have seen sales drops this year. That could be indicative of fewer cars being purchased as a gift this season, The Wall Street Journal reports. Here’s why you should get comfortable with your current ride.
Curated by Dan DeFrancesco in New York. Feedback or tips? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet @dandefrancesco, or connect on LinkedIn. Edited by Jeffrey Cane (tweet @jeffrey_cane) in New York and Hallam Bullock (tweet @hallam_bullock) in London.