Wells Fargo settlements don’t affect its bottom line – earnings increased in 2018


Last year lenders struggled under increasing competition and some were even forced to sell or merge with other companies – but Wells Fargo saw an increase in its full year net income.

This is despite the numerous settlements against the bank for its scandals in 2018…and 2017and 2016…in fact some scandals coming to light date back more than a decade.

But now, the bank is being forced to pay up, including a $1 billion fine from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and settling for $575 million with all 50 states. But even amid this increase in penalties and settlements, Wells Fargo’s earnings increased from 2017 to 2018.

The companies net income increased to $22.39 billion in 2018, up from $22.18 billion in 2017. This represents an increase in net earnings per share from $4.10 in 2017 to $4.28 in 2018.

When looking at just the fourth quarter, net income also increased from $6.01 billion in the third quarter to $6.06 billion. Its net earnings per share increased from $1.13 to $1.21 in the fourth quarter.

The bank’s revenue, however, did see a dip both quarterly and annually. Its revenue decreased from $21.9 billion in the third quarter to $21 billion in Q4. Annually, its revenue dropped from $88.4 billion in 2017 to $86.4 billion in 2018.

Wells Fargo recently made efforts to increase its user experience in mortgage lending, launching its digital mortgage back in 2017, but began using it in January 2018, and as of October, said already more than a quarter of its mortgage applications are coming through the digital channel.

But despite these strides, the bank’s noninterest income decreased by $1 billion in the fourth quarter to $8.3 billion, dragged down by lower market sensitive revenue, mortgage banking fees and trust and investment fees.

Mortgage banking income plummeted, dropping to $467 million in the fourth quarter, down from $846 million in the third quarter. Its net mortgage servicing income also decreased, falling to $109 million from $390 million in the third quarter.

The bottom line – Wells Fargo is originating less mortgages. Mortgage originations fell to $38 billion in the fourth quarter, down from $46 billion in the third quarter.

But it isn’t surprising that Wells Fargo’s mortgage department is struggling. Back in November, the bank announced it was eliminating 900 mortgage jobs, and cut about 1,000 positions overall.

But Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan was optimistic about the results.

“I’m proud of the transformational changes we made at Wells Fargo during 2018 including significant progress on our six goals,” Sloan said. “We have made meaningful improvements to how we manage risk across the company, particularly operational and compliance risk.”

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