Sunday, March 3, 2013
Hey Dick, Swing It
The article below discusses the Bank of Scotland and its pressure sale tactics to ensure more people signed up for at risk credit lending. This is Scotland, but that is part of the Empire to the Brits and the home of the lying scandal that put the L in LIBOR.
This is, however, not exclusive to our friends in the Union of Europe. The Washington Mutual Bank formerly from here in Seattle is laden with interesting tales during its Power of Yes campaign that included one lender snorting meth while screaming at colleagues to make more sales. It is sort of another interesting addition to the bizarre lending documentation and substantiation of income that took place there; a kind of No meaning Yes, another male convoluted fantasy. And given that banking is a male dominated industry is this that surprising?
In another sort of, kind of twist, WaMu was bought by Chase and then this week I heard the recent story about Jamie Dimon, King of the Dicks, and their CEO, and his recent abuse of a credit analyst who actually decided to do his job and ask a relevant question. Dimon's response was something akin to "I'm rich biatch" Ironically the analyst reputation also was that of "kinda of a dick". Well there were two Dicks as Darren in Bewitched, it takes a lot of Dicks to control a bitch, whoops I mean witch.
This recent round of events shows that nothing has changed, everything is the same and welcome to the new version of Spartacus, but its a different kind of swords the Gladiators are swinging.
The Observer UK Guardian
Saturday 2 March 2013
A Halifax insider describes how the push to 'sell, sell, sell' continues, despite the regulator's finding that such incentive schemes contributed to recent mis-selling scandals
An employee of Britain's biggest banking group has described a "disheartening and demotivating" sales culture that pressurises staff into selling financial products to customers in order to meet strict points-based daily targets.
The man, who did not wish to be named, but we will call David Elliott, works as a financial consultant for Halifax. He says his job chiefly entails trying to sell insurance to customers. "I've been a counter clerk, banking adviser, financial adviser and now I'm a financial consultant – so I've been at every level there is in a retail bank. It gradually gets worse the higher you climb the ladder and now I'm at the highest seller point in banking and the pressure is abnormal," he says.
Sales targets are everywhere, and products translate into points which are added to a branch total, he adds. Loans and home insurance attract the most points, and there are also points for generating new leads from customers.
On Friday, Lloyds Group, which owns Halifax, said in its annual report that it was "Reviewing and developing incentives continually to ensure they promote colleagues behaviours that meet customer needs and regulatory expectations".
The bonus pool for employees has been cut, and Lloyds said the average pay out was £3,900 last year, but Elliott suggests there is still a big focus on sales. He told us how, throughout the day, staff discuss how much they have sold and how they can sell more. He outlined to The Observer a typical series of meetings – up to four a day.
■ Meeting one, 9am to 9.35am
"All sellers and managers sit at a table with the customer information that is in each seller's diary for that day. Each seller is grilled about which products customers can be cross-sold. Either that or they are referred to another seller to sell them something. That leaves people so disheartened and demotivated it's untrue. How can you know a customer's needs without ever speaking to them?"
■ Meeting two, 11.30am (15-20mins)
"A check-in, in the same room with a member of counter, banking hall, sales and management staff. We all write on the board what sales have been done that day. These are transferred into "points" and the branch roughly has to do 5,000 points per day. If we are behind, everyone at that check-in is grilled on how to get more points ."
■ Meeting three, 12.30pm (15-20mins)
"The same as meeting two. If sales aren't being met, all advisers who don't have appointments are forced to cold-call existing customers about potential products they could want."
■ Meeting four, 3pm (15-20mins)
"Pressure is put on staff again to find more points from customers before 5pm."
The revelations come almost six months after the Financial Services Authority told banks and building societies to clean up their act following a review of the sales culture at Britain's biggest financial firms.
The regulator concluded that many, if not all, of the recent mis-selling scandals had dysfunctional incentive schemes at their root.
At some banks there are signs the culture could be changing. Co-operative Bank, Barclays and HSBC have all removed sales targets from staff pay. Elsewhere, however, it seems to be more of the same. Although Lloyds Group has made some changes and introduced an element of bonus linked to customer services, Elliott says he feels like "part of a used-car salesman sketch" and is unhappy with the way the bank seems entirely focused on making sales. "They tell colleagues " sell to a need", but they can't because they have to sell, sell, sell," he says. "Any product from mortgages to bank accounts could be the next PPI, because of the pressure to sell." He says he has complained to line managers and has been told to "like it or leave" and he says he has done the job required of him. But, he says, after several years at the bank: "I'm just infuriated."
Job adverts for similar roles on the Lloyds Group site talk of "delivering the highest standards of customer service and suggesting the right products in each situation", but the mention of sales targets is not far away.
An advert for a personal banking adviser in Peterborough, paying £16,020-£19,700, describes the ideal candidate as someone able to "meet and exceed personal sales, cross sales and quality referral targets, contributing towards the branch team's service and sales targets". Excellent customer service and experience are also named as key, but come after sales in the job description.
A Halifax spokeswoman said branches had short meetings throughout the day but these "are designed to review all aspects of the customer experience". She added: "This includes looking at whether there are opportunities to make customers better off."
The spokeswoman said: "We have a clear reward framework for colleagues that ensures we recognise behaviours that are focused on achieving correct customer outcomes and excellent service. Branch targets for both service and meeting customer needs are set on the basis of the local market and resource levels in that particular location."
She added: "We have taken steps in the past year to ensure as much as possible that there is no product bias in our framework. We also have a number of quality controls in place. This includes monitoring sales to ensure that colleagues have met customer needs appropriately and communicated important information clearly … We also have clawback mechanisms in place for any colleagues who make inappropriate sales."