The Big Mean Banks Are Out To Take Your Money

News flash the big Canadian banks are retail operations and their purpose is to sell you things. Shocker! I know it’s hard to believe but just like most other retail stores, they have products to sell and sales targets to achieve. And just like other retail stores they also have managers that expect their employees to achieve these goals. Because, guess what? Those same managers also have sales targets and goals.

Now that is out of the way let’s talk about some of the statements that I will take directly from the CBC go public article. But before I do that let’s just clarify that Erica Johnson the person responsible for writing this article most likely also has quotas and goals. She is most likely given credit for page views and for writing articles that are controversial to get those said viewers. Hell, I’m even writing about her article and I hardly ever read CBC. So I guess job well done Erica Johnson.

‘We are all doing it’: Employees at Canada’s 5 big banks speak out about pressure to dupe customers.

Yes. Yes they are all doing it. Of course if you mean that they are all selling products to customers. Are they out to dupe customers? I don’t think so. If the employee is duping the customer and is caught – the bank will most certainly have an issue with that. And most likely has a process in place to deal with employees that do not adhere to their code of conduct. Not one person quoted in the article states any branch manager told any employee directly to lie, cheat and steal.

Just because the tellers felt pressure and fear for their jobs to up-sell customers doesn’t give them permission to lie cheat and steal. Also missing from the article is a statement from an employee current or former that states that they were told directly by a manager to lie, cheat and steal and there is no mention of an employee ever being fired for not meeting a sales goal.

Employees from all five of Canada’s big banks have flooded Go Public with stories of how they feel pressured to up-sell, trick and even lie to customers to meet unrealistic sales targets and keep their jobs.

Flooded hardly. 1,000 emails represents less than 0.28% of the total work force at the banks mentioned. How did the CBC verify if these goals were unrealistic? There is no indication of what the sales targets were and how those goals relate to what would be realistic. The most I could get from what was written was the teller was now responsible to ask each customer if they would like additional services and the expectation was that some customers would probably say yes.

Scotiabank – 89,214 employees. Royal Bank – 80,000 employees. CIBC – 44,424 employees. TD – 85,000 employees. BMO – 46,778.

In nearly 1,000 emails, employees from RBC, BMO, CIBC, TD and Scotiabank locations across Canada describe the pressures to hit targets that are monitored weekly, daily and in some cases hourly.

Target and goals would not really be targets or goals if they weren’t monitored or communicated with employees. Or am I missing something?

“Management is down your throat all the time,” said a Scotiabank financial adviser. “They want you to hit your numbers and it doesn’t matter how.”

I believe that they want you to hit your numbers. The “it doesn’t matter how” part seems a little suspect.

An RBC teller from Thunder Bay, Ont., said even when customers don’t need or want anything, “we need to upgrade their Visa card, increase their Visa limits or get them to open up a credit line.”

Remember you are a retail store and it’s your job to sell products. How do you know that the person in front of you doesn’t need or want a product if you don’t ask them? And if it doesn’t cost the client anything to increase their limit or open up a line of credit what is the harm in asking and explaining the benefits.

“It’s not what’s important to our clients anymore,” she said. “The bank wants more and more money. And it’s leading everyone into debt.”

No. People lead themselves into debt. If the bank gives out a credit card or a line of credit the onus is on the customer to use that credit responsibly. Nobody has forced anyone to overspend and live outside their means.

He claims his manager once told him not to tell clients who wanted to invest more than $40,000 when the markets were down, because putting their money into GICs wouldn’t earn the branch as much sales revenue.

The manager might be right on this one. I would really like to hear the other side of this story. Math is hard but the golden rule when investing in stocks is Buy low – Sell high not the other way around.

With a good risk profile investing in the stock market at depressed levels would most likely be a the best time to invest in the stock market not the worst. GICs are rarely a good investment and generally pay a pittance – little less than 2%. It sounds like the GIC options would have been poor advice on this one. This might help explain why this particular advisor wasn’t meeting his sales goals.

He said she also told him to attach high interest rates on mortgages and lines of credit and to not tell clients those interest rates are negotiable.

So did he say not to negotiate at all? Like as in – the rate is gong to be 5% or f*ck off, you ain’t gettin’ a mortgage here – kind of not negotiable?

Or was it more like we have a posted rate for a reason and if the customer is perfectly happy to take that rate – so be it. Again you have to remember that Banks are retail stores and it is their job to make profit. You wouldn’t expect a car dealer, dentist, insurance, TV sales, contractor, house builder, plumber, electrician, mechanic or just about anyone to offer you their best rate without negotiating. And if you are happy paying the posted rate, there is nothing wrong with that.

More than 1,000 emails

Yes. I heard you the first time. This represents a total of 0.28% of the total work force at the banks listed. Let’s hear from the other 99.72% of employees before we take this too seriously.

The revelations about other banks came pouring in after Go Public revealed last week that front-line staff at TD were under pressure to sell customers products and services they may not need and that some employees were breaking the law to hit their sales revenue targets.

The fact that some employees have admitted to breaking law to hit their targets is startling. I’m not sure why only some employees in this article had to resort to breaking the law while others in this article did not. The employees that broke the law are the problem and should be held accountable.

including a teller who recently stopped working in Bramalea, Ont., who said the requirement to meet ever-increasing goals was so unprofessional, “I thought this was not a bank but a flea market.”

Goals and benchmarks that increase is pretty much a standard business practice and I’m not sure how it even makes sense to say that having a goal that increases over time would be unprofessional. Is this article for real. Is this posted on the Onion? Is it April fools?

I’m almost certain that the good hard working folks at your local flea market have goals and targets too. “It sure wold be nice to sell all this sh*t here on this table”. Goal accepted.

“Managers belittle you,” she said. “We get weekly emails that highlight in red the people who are not hitting those sales targets. It’s bullying.”

It has been known that if you have a target that the only way to know that you have reached said target is if you get a performance report. Red highlight would be appropriate to indicate under performance as RED has been chosen as an the universal color for indicating that something is wrong, needs to stop or just plain sucks.

Employees at several RBC branches in Calgary said there are white boards posted in the staff room that list which financial advisers are meeting their sales targets and which advisers are coming up short.

Remember these banks are in retail sales. Makes perfect sense that they would have a sales board in place. I wonder if they get weekly emails too highlighted in red too? Maybe they could choose between them or just do both.

“The entire team can see who is keeping them down. It’s shaming,” said a Scotiabank financial adviser who told Go Public she’s taking early retirement “because this environment is not for me.”

For some this could be motivating. Even a great way to stir friendly competition. A way to see who the top performer is and ask for advice to help you hone your own sales skills. For most sales organizations this is standard practice.

It has been over 8 months since this story was first posted by the CBC – nothing ever came of it and from a news perspective it kind of just fizzled and died. There will always be few A-hole managers out there and a few employees that take it a bit to far, even to the point of breaking the law. Ultimately the BIG 5 are still geared to help their customers first while making a profit and are still another planet away from adopting the full ABC approach to sales. Who knows in the future they might change their mantra to “Always Be Closing” – Be warned the big bad banks are out to take your money. If you let them.

Author: The Money Runner

Husband, father, runner, personal finance enthusiast and computer geek. Thanks for visiting. Please check out my other posts and follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

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