Investigation Makes a Case in Press for Gender Bias at Wells Fargo
Male brokers with negative marks on their record cost Wells Fargo Advisors far more than female brokers with disclosures — yet men are less likely to leave the firm, suggest the authors of an investigation by online publication, the Intercept.
Of the 25 largest settlements involving a Wells Fargo broker from 2005 to 2015, just one involves a woman, according to the website.
The largest 25 settlements involving female Wells Fargo brokers totaled $7 million, with three of the women eventually being terminated, the Intercept, which brands its style of journalism as "adversarial," writes.
The largest 25 settlements involving male brokers, meanwhile, totaled $73.1 million — with none of them getting fired, according to the website.
Overall, the average settlement involving a male Wells Fargo broker during that period was $228,593, the Intercept writes. The average for female brokers was less than half ($113,762), according to the website.
For its investigation, the Intercept partnered with Mark Egan of Harvard Business School, Amit Seru of Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Gregor Matvos of the University of Texas at Austin.
The academics had released a working paper last year that found that female brokers typically received tougher punishment than their male counterparts, with Wells Fargo Advisors standing out, the website writes.
While 41% of the male brokers who resigned or were fired from the wirehouse following an allegation, that figure jumped to 69% for female brokers, the academics found, according to the Intercept.
Similar to the researchers’ study last year, the website found that 42% of male brokers left the firm after getting a disclosure, compared to 72% of the female brokers, according to the Intercept .
While 59% of the men didn’t work again in the industry, that figure rose to 75% for women, the website writes.
Of the more than 13,000 brokers who were with Wells Fargo Advisors on April 15, 1,555 had at least one disclosure on their record added while they worked at the company, the website writes, citing its analysis of BrokerCheck data. Of those, 1,283 were men and 272 were women, according to the Intercept.
A Wells Fargo spokeswoman tells the website in an email that the gender study is “wrong” and its conclusion “misleading,” and the company takes issue with the study’s methodology, data and the variables used.
The academics, in a joint statement, say they gathered the data from a regulatory database — and that neither Finra, the SEC, the Federal Reserve, state regulators nor several academic conferences ever raised any “substantial issues” with their study, the Intercept writes.