Wells Fargo is working to put its past legal issues behind it, according to chief executive officer and president Charles Scharf.

“Implementing an appropriate risk and control framework across the company” is the firm’s “top priority,” Scharf said during the firm’s earnings call for the quarter ending September 30.

In its earnings report released Friday, the firm disclosed that it has set aside $2 billion for expenses “primarily related to a variety of historical matters, including litigation, customer remediation and regulatory matters.”

“We continue to make progress and are executing on our plans, but significant work remains,” he said, adding that he is “confident” in the bank’s ability to "wipe the slate clean.” "We have set high standards for success, and given the long-standing nature of much of our work, we have said that we remain at risk of setbacks until it is complete,” Scharf said during the call.

But he also warned analysts of continued coming costs. "We are working to close these as quickly as possible, and we remain committed to doing right for our customers and working closely with our regulators and others to resolve these matters. We recognize the importance of moving forward, and the expenses in the quarter are representative of these efforts," he added.

Scharf's statements come at an especially critical time for the bank and the advisors associated with the brand. Research shows that reputational issues can be especially acute in times of economic uncertainty.

“It’s positive that it’s top of mind for senior management,” said Laura Varas, CEO and founder of Hearts & Wallets. “It looks to us that a lot of the fixes have already been put in place.”

The wirehouse appears to be well on its way to rebuilding its reputation, Hearts & Wallets research indicates. In 2021, 43% of Wells Fargo Advisors customers reported having “very high trust” in the institution, compared to 40% in 2018.

For Wells Fargo Bank, 39% of customers reported having “very high trust” in 2021, compared to 28% in 2018.

Wells Fargo’s cross-selling and fake-accounts scandals, among other regulatory blemishes, have dinged the bank's brand. Scharf took the reins in September 2019, with a promise to reinvent the firm.

Friday’s earnings suggest the advisor head count has remained steady, as have client assets.

Wells Fargo had 12,011 financial and wealth advisors for the quarter ending September 30, down 1% from the prior quarter and down 4% year-over-year, according to its earnings report.

Total client assets in the firm’s wealth and investment management unit for the quarter were $1.76 trillion, down 4% from the prior quarter and down 16% year-over-year, according to the earnings report.

Of that, $756 billion sat in fee-based client assets and $1.0 trillion in brokerage and other client money as of September 30. Those figures are down 18% and 14% year-over-year, respectively.

Annualized revenue per advisor was $1.2 million as of September 30, up 6% from a year ago.

Meanwhile, Wells Fargo is continuing to make strides with its Wells Fargo Premier service, which links banking, lending and investing services offered to affluent clients. Chief financial officer Mike Santomassimo said in the firm’s earnings call for the quarter ending June 30 that the service was in development, as reported.

Wells Fargo Premier Checking is available with no monthly fee to clients with $250,000 or more in linked qualifying deposits and investment balances; otherwise, a monthly service fee of $35 applies, a spokesperson said at the time.

In the quarter ending September 30, Wells Fargo Premier was introduced across the firm’s entire branch footprint, Scharf said Friday. The firm has also initiated a digital experience for the service and launched marketing programs “to help affluent customers learn more about how we can better serve them,” Scharf said during the call, adding that the firm will continue to build out the offering in the coming quarters.