In a recent post on Hive, one member of staff said:

“There are credible reports of colleagues being pressurised for “their numbers” in the way that the old and failed sales management of the past used to do. This, despite the promise made by David Oldfield in his ‘Best Bank For Customers’ communication in December 2015 that “there will continue to be no product-based targets for branch colleagues and in fact there are no targets across the board.”

In response to the points made by the author, which included some important comments on working hours and working practices in the branch networks that we shall deal with in our next Newsletter, Ms Janet Pope, Chief of Staff and Group Director, Responsible Business and Inclusion said: “You raise many points which I think need to be investigated as I have not heard the rumours that you have heard. [Worth saying here that the author said “credible reports” and not “rumours”] I will look into them as they clearly raise concerns. Thank you for bringing them to my attention”.

In respect of the “credible reports of colleagues being pressurised for “their numbers”, what have Janet Pope’s investigations revealed, if anything? What type of investigation did she undertake and why have the results of that investigation not been published? In the absence of any response from Ms Pope can one assume that no investigation was actually undertaken? Ms Pope is subject to the FCA’s Senior Managers Regime and having been advised of staff being pressurised to sell products to customers she is under an obligation to act on that information. That obligation extends beyond a telephone conversation with Mr. Vim Maru – Group Director, Retail – to confirm that there is no sales pressure on staff in any of the retail networks.

One of the main high-pressure sales techniques used by Lloyds in the past was performance league tables, which ranked staff based on sales performance. Staff at the bottom of the league table were put under pressure to improve their performance. In the last few months, we have started to see league tables make a comeback. A member of the union recently sent us a league table that’s been introduced in one branch.

Interestingly, this kind of sales pressure is not unique to the UK. Wells Fargo in the US had much bigger problems with its staff being pressurised to open 3.5 million current accounts without customer authorisation. The independent report into what happened concluded that: “employees who engaged in misconduct most frequently associated their behaviour with sales pressure, rather than compensation incentives.”. Whilst sales incentives may have gone, the pressure on staff to produce “their numbers” is still a major problem in banking. That pressure exists in Lloyds today and Ms Janet Pope needs to respond to the points raised by the author. Taking the issue “off-line” is unacceptable.

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