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18% of Wells Fargo branches lost deposits, FDIC data shows

Deposit growth at Wells Fargo & Co.'s retail branches weakened between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, while it improved for competitors Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., according to recently released FDIC data.

Wells Fargo's troubles with employees opening phony accounts came to light in September 2016. Banks report deposits per branch annually as of June 30. The data for June 30, 2017, shows that median deposit growth per branch at Wells Fargo was just 5.6% between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, down from 7.5% in the year ended June 30, 2016, before the scandal became public.

Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase reported stronger same-store deposit growth of 9.9% and 12.5%, respectively, for the year ended June 30, 2017.

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Though lower than peers, Wells Fargo's same-store branch growth was in line with the overall median deposit growth of 5.9% for all FDIC-insured branches in the U.S.

Wells Fargo's total deposit growth as reported at the parent level in regulatory reports was also lower than BofA and JPMorgan, growing by just 3.3% to $1.184 trillion during the 12 months ended June 30, 2017, compared to 4.1% at Bank of America and 8.0% at JPMorgan Chase.

Additionally, a greater proportion of Wells Fargo's branches saw declines in deposits when compared to Bank of America and JPMorgan. Just 6.1% of Bank of America's branches and 5.0% of JPMorgan's branches reported a decline in deposits, while 18.4% of Wells Fargo's branches reported a decline. Wells Fargo still had a lower portion of deposit-losing branches than the broader industry, however, which saw 24.7% of branches report deposit declines.

Wells Fargo executives expressed optimism in the company's ability to repair its reputation with customers during a conference call to discuss third-quarter earnings.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said Oct. 13 that customer satisfaction with branches has been improving in the months since the sales practices settlements had been announced.

"While branch customer loyalty and satisfaction with most recent visit scores declined slightly in September, after our announcement of the completion of the expanded third-party account review, both metrics had reached individual post-sales practices settlements high earlier in the quarter, and we saw improvement in loyalty scores near the end of September," Sloan said, according to a transcript.

Wells Fargo CFO John Shrewsberry also commented during the call that the bank's primary consumer checking customers had "declined modestly" in the third quarter compared to the prior quarter and year-ago quarter.

"While our attrition rates have remained stable, the decline in new account openings has impacted primary consumer checking customer growth. However, as we highlighted at Investor Day, our new customers continue to have higher balances and to use their debit cards more frequently," Shrewsberry said, according to the transcript.

Wells Fargo has maintained the largest branch network in the country since Dec. 31, 2008, when it acquired Wachovia Corp. It plans to close 200 branches in 2017, with 145 closed during the first nine months of the year, Shrewsberry said during the call.

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Methodology notes

When measuring deposit growth per branch between June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2017, S&P Global Market Intelligence only considered branches that had less than $1.0 billion in deposits and more than $100,000 in deposits as of June 30, 2016. Also excluded were branches that sold to a different bank during the measured time period. The same methodology was used to measure branch growth between June 30, 2015, and June 30, 2016.

Deposit-heavy branches were excluded in order to better capture retail consumer deposit growth, as branches with more than $1 billion in deposits often house deposits from all over the country, from corporate or municipal sources, or from nonlocal retail consumer sources. Branches with less than $100,000 in deposits were excluded in order to limit the analysis to established branches and remove the effect of large percentage gain outliers which occur when a very small amount grows to a slightly less small amount.

The effect of these exclusions removed 1.1% of branches from Bank of America, 2.4% of branches from JPMorgan Chase and 4.5% of branches from Wells Fargo. On a deposit basis, the exclusions removed about half of the deposits of all three banks.

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