Stephen Parry, of First Union, says the results are no surprise, and it’s only because of the Australian banking scandal that banks and regulators have started taking notice.
Stress from sales pressure was the number one complaint from union members, Parry says.
“Frontline bank workers are under enormous pressure to sell financial products to consumers. If they do not meet their sales, they risk facing disciplinary action for what the banks call ‘poor performance’, and can ultimately lose their jobs.”
Targets and pressure within banks was not good for workers, or consumers, Parry says in a press release.
The survey of 600 union members says 87 per cent of staff at ANZ, BNZ, and Westpac, feel pressure to sell financial products, with 92 per cent feeling the same or more pressure than they did one year ago.
The Financial Markets Authority (FMA), which regulates New Zealand’s banks, says the survey will feed into the joint FMA and Reserve Bank of New Zealand culture and conduct review that is currently under way, a spokesman says. Parry supported this, but called for a full public enquiry as well.
Antony Buick-Constable, the New Zealand Bankers’ Association deputy chief executive, told JUNO the Sedgwick review recommended that bank culture be customer-oriented. A revised Code of Banking Practice was launched on 1 June, where New Zealand banks make a “clear commitment” to treating customers fairly and reasonably, he says.
Of the 201 BNZ staff surveyed by First Union, a massive 93 per cent of staff felt pressure, with Westpac on 89 per cent and ANZ 82 per cent. Those surveyed represent a small proportion of total staff from these banks.
BNZ’s chief customer officer, Paul Carter, says he will be discussing the survey results with his team.
“While the survey results represent just 4 per cent of BNZ staff, we’ll ensure we have a good understanding of the underlying issues that sit behind the survey result.”
“[We] have moved to ensure the balance of incentives for our frontline employees are on meeting customer needs rather than selling products,” a Westpac spokesman says.
“We’d encourage any staff who feel they are under pressure to sell to raise the issue with their manager.”
BNZ and Westpac say they are implementing the relevant recommendations from the Sedgwick report. ANZ says it’s already implemented them.
An ANZ spokesman says: “We always try to provide our customers with the services and products that meet their needs – it’s not in their or our long-term interests for staff to feel undue pressure to meet sales targets.”
He says for most frontline staff, sales made up only 25 per cent of their performance assessment.
“We know there has been concern about the old sales culture within banks. The changes we’ve made to incentives go some way to addressing this, and we’re working hard to embed a culture that puts customer relationships and loyalty ahead of short-term sales.”
First published 27 June, 2018
Story by Claire Connell
JUNO does not contain financial advice as defined by the Financial Advisers Act 2008. Consult a suitably qualified financial adviser before making investment decisions. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that JUNO considers accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.