From these conversations, it’s clear that success of all of these companies is predicated on respect for customers and integrity. Wells Fargo’s entire business model is grassroots, built on relationships and trust. Raymond James only succeeds by growing the assets of its customers. Fidelity can tell you how many retirement accounts it is serving this year. These are just three examples. I’ve got 97 other companies about which I could say the same thing.

I have built Habitat for Humanity houses in Charlotte side-by-side with employees these companies. I have enjoyed a BBQ lunch with them in Birmingham. I have held high level policy debates with CEOs in New York, conducted panel discussions with insurance agents in Bloomington and gone to church with others in Atlanta. 

I hear from the top of the house, the side of the house, the producers, the loan officers, the fraud prevention analysts, and everyone in between. In these conversations, whether we are talking about baseball, the Federal Reserve, grandkids, mortgage modifications, or quarterly earnings, one thing is always foremost: They care about their customers.

We are a service industry. If we don’t take care of our customers or if we talk trash about them, we will not survive. That’s the plain and simple truth. Mr. Smith’s comments are not an accurate a reflection of financial services companies or the high ethical code to which they hold themselves. 

Bartlett is president and CEO for The Financial Services Roundtable, and a former member of Congress.