What’s Up With Stumpf?

Holy facelift, Batman! What’s up with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf’s face?

No, the burning question of the day about Wells Fargo isn’t what lawsuit has the company settled for mega-bucks (without any admission of guilt, of course) or how many families did its Home Mortgage division foreclose on to date.

I’m wondering whether the bank exec bought himself a facelift with some of the millions he makes overseeing a company that has tormented, cheated and lied to tens of thousands of homeowners? Or did some artist get a little crazy with PhotoShop?

I happened across the scary stretched Stumpf pic in an editorial posted in the Fall 2012 issue of the online LATINO magazine.com, where he was writing about how much Wells Fargo values diversity. (This in the wake of a $400+ million settlement in a lawsuit alleging the bank routinely steered minority borrowers into more expensive sub-prime mortgage loans.)

There’s no photo credit and it’s not the same pic that’s used on Stumpf’s bio page on the Wells Fargo website, though that one also looks pretty different from the hopefully unedited news pics available online.

In contrast, here he is earlier in 2012 on the cover of the February  issue of Forbes, illustrating a rather nauseating puff piece all about how wonderful and clever and honest Wells Fargo is compared to all those other big banks.

And this is how he appeared in a 2011 Fortune piece all about how to fix the mortgage crisis – ultimately how to ensure the banks keep making billions on home loans.

Here’s Stumpf in a Bloomberg/Businessweek article “The 50 Most Powerful People in U.S. Real Estate 2010” published in March of that year.

And here’s a 2009 San Francisco Business Times article on California’s financial woes.

Looks like the bank exec is getting younger every year. What is he, a modern Dorian Gray? Does his face stay young and smooth whilst he has hidden away somewhere a hideous portrait disfigured by the ravages of all the damage he and his company perpetrate? Yikes! Imagine what such a picture would look like post 2008 financial bust.

Why Can’t Banks Figure Out Single Point of Contact?

The single most common search term that leads people to my blog is this: Single Point of Contact. SPOC. That thing the banks have been required to provide their borrowers who are seeking mortgage modifications under the Home Affordable Modification Program.

That thing banks like Wells Fargo have been saying for several years they ARE providing their borrowers.(Yeah, well, not exactly.)

So, why am I still seeing all the searches? It’s not like it’s a difficult concept. Single. Point. Of. Contact. One person who is familiar with your case, handles all your paperwork and can explain the process in words that ordinary humans understand. A bank employee who gives a customer his or her direct phone number and email address. Someone who actually responds to phone messages and emails in a timely manner with real, true and binding information.

This is not some newfangled concept. In the not-so-distant past it was simply how business was done. A customer called the bank to ask for information and that information was provided quickly, accurately and even politely. Unfortunately, today’s better/stronger/greedier bankers don’t seem to understand that.

So, four years into the financial debacle caused in large part by those very same bankers, these big, rich corporations still aren’t quite sure exactly how to set up a functioning SPOC system? Apparently not.

In a recent report, the Treasury Department (which, frankly, hasn’t been a whole lot of help to beleagered borrowers up to now) tracks the different SPOC models being used by the big banks and tells about the thousands of people they’ve hired to implement these programs.They’re still not sure which approach is best. They’ll get back to us on that later.

Judging from the searches and comments on my blog, I feel pretty confident telling them none of the big banks is complying with the SPOC requirement. Homeowners still aren’t getting even the most basic assistance from all these so-called professionals. What they’re getting is the run-around. Sending forms over and over because they get “lost” or “stale.” Fighting through a phone queue instead of having someone to call directly. Or getting a SPOC only to have the person ignore phone calls, provide wrong information or even seemingly evaporate right into thin air.

Yep. More of same. Been there, done that.

Apparently Wells Fargo told Treasury it employs 3,026 SPOCs and 121 support staff members who work with borrowers in specific market segments, so certain employees specialize in handling GSE loans and private-label mortgages.

Gee, that’s the same model I was told was in place way back in July 2010 when I was being tossed around like a hot potato through a loan modification review that took nearly seven months to complete. The one and only Wells employee who was ever diligent about things like returning phone calls and following through on finding out information couldn’t continue as my SPOC because she only worked with Wells-owned loans. I went on to have 16 more SPOCs over the two-plus years I battled to keep my home.

So. Same old delay-and-deny game, stringing borrowers along until they’re so bogged down they can’t recover and retain their homes. It’s almost as if the banks don’t want borrowers to succeed in modifying their loans so they can avoid foreclosure and keep paying the investors who bought the loans from those same banks.

If Wells Fargo and cronies wanted to implement an efficient system for reviewing loan mods, don’t you think they could have done so by now? They’re certainly efficient enough when they’re making the mortgage loans.

So, either these bank execs are so stupid they can’t understand concepts such as “single” and “contact.” Or, maybe, they are so craven that they have absolutely no intention of doing anything that quells their grasping, greed-driven foreclosure feeding frenzy. And maybe Treasury, Congress, the President and every fake regulatory agency in this country, plus most of the courts, attorneys general and state legislatures are standing back and letting it all happen. Maybe.