“Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £28m for “serious failings” in relation to bonus schemes for sales staff.
The Financial Conduct Authority said it was the largest fine that it or the former Financial Services Authority had imposed for retail conduct failings.
The bonus scheme pressurised staff to hit sales targets or risk being demoted and have their pay cut, the FCA said.” – BBC Website
I’m not surprised in the slightest about this story – because thirteen years ago next week I left a bank because of this very issue.
I had left University and I wasn’t sure what to do jobwise – looking through the newspaper each Friday, I often applied for anything that seemed reasonable just to start earning. There was a job for a certain bank advertised – I don’t want to name the bank in question because I’m probably not supposed to, so let’s called it Scotland’s Bank – and after completing psychometric tests and an interview I was given a job at a local branch as a “Customer Service and Sales Operative”. I went through the compulsory training and was ready to start – what I wasn’t ready for was the sales part of the job and the complete lack of joined up thinking involved in that part of the “service”.
We were encouraged to offer the same set of products like insurances and credit cards to all customers regardless of their needs or circumstances. So much so that there was even a wee bingo card introduced for us to try to fill up over a week with a prize for a full house. Now I don’t blame the manager of the branch who was a lovely guy, because he was under pressure to get us to do this so the branch would meet it’s targets. I’m sure behind the scenes there were veiled threats and levels of expectation put on him which he had to pass on to us – and making it “fun” for us was the easiest way of getting through a very nasty and greedy proposition.
When you are trying to sell insurances to pensioners that they don’t need; suggest loans to people who have thousands, if not millions in the banks; to suggest that someone who is in serious debt should take a loan to cover that and on top give them a credit card when they have already shown they can’t manage their money, all added up to me knocking on the boss’s door and saying I wasn’t comfortable doing those things. I felt, and still do, that banking for the general public is a service industry not a money-making business and that if they want to make a huge profit that should be made from their business portfolios and not our savings accounts. I don’t expect something for nothing but I do expect them to do things to help me and not to cause me problems in the future which was happening with these aggressive sales promotions.
To give the Manager his due he said he understood and accepted my point and understood my moral position and while he agreed with elements of it he could really do anything about it. So I resigned. Over a decade later and today’s news is not a surprise – and Lloyd’s will not be the last of the big names that will be mentioned in this type of aggressive salesmanship. From being in a bank I have also seen those people to whom this type of aggressive selling is seen as a challenge or a game that they try to rack up as many sales as possible just to out-do other round about them. That’s just not me, I couldn’t do that job with a clear conscience but there will always be those who can. As long as they are employed and allowed to run riot this issue will be in the banking industry.