Wells Fargo CEO: We will 'reassure' our investors — including Warren Buffett

Wells Fargo CEO to CNBC: We are rebuilding trust
Wells Fargo CEO to CNBC: We are rebuilding trust

Since its massive fake accounts scandal broke last year, Wells Fargo has been looking to assure customers that it's back on the right track. One very big shareholder factors significantly into that effort: Warren Buffett.

The billionaire Oracle of Omaha is the bank's biggest shareholder through his firm Berkshire Hathaway, which has a 9.6 percent stake in Wells Fargo worth nearly $28.5 billion.

In the past, Buffett publicly has stated that the bank made "a huge mistake" that led to the scandal. Wells had to pay a $190 million fine related to employees creating accounts for customers who never requested them.

On Friday, Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan said Buffett was absolutely correct.

"He's been very direct in terms of some of the mistakes that we made," Sloan told CNBC in an exclusive interview. "I agree with him. We had an incentive program that drove the wrong behavior."

Though he has expressed his displeasure not only with the sales scandal but also the way the bank handled it from a public relations standpoint, Buffett has stood firm in supporting Wells Fargo. He has not sold any of his company's shares.

However, that doesn't mean Wells executives aren't conscious of keeping Buffett and other stakeholders happy going forward. Sloan said he's spoken to Buffett three times since becoming CEO.

"I don't know if I'm going to be able to do anything to assure him," Sloan said. "I think our performance is going to reassure him as to whether or not he should continue as our largest shareholder."

'We've owned up to' mistakes

Sloan on Friday again apologized for the bank's conduct.

Some 2 million customers were affected and 5,300 Wells Fargo employees dismissed over the matter. The trigger for the problems was a cross-selling program that rewarded associates for enrolling customers in multiple programs the bank offered. The program has since been discontinued, and the bank has offered a slew of reforms to its operations.

Executives have been affected as well, though Sloan and others still received healthy raises since the scandal broke. The CEO made $12.8 million last year, a 17 percent pay increase, as he rose to the top position in October.

"The board decides whether or not my pay is competitive. That's their decision, and I respect their decision," he said. "The pay that I get is reflective of my job responsibility. My job is to be CEO of one of the most valuable firms in the world."

Sloan again apologized for the scandal and vowed that the company has put it in the past.

"My primary focus has been to work with our team to rebuild trust within our company," he said. "We made some mistakes, we made some significant mistakes. We've owned up to them and we're making progress."