Banks ‘still pushing unsuitable products despite series of scandals’

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MAJOR mis-selling scandals have failed to stop banks pressurising their staff into pushing products which may be unsuitable, Which? claimed yesterday.

Two-thirds of of bank staff with sales targets said they are being placed under more pressure than ever to hit them and almost half know colleagues who have mis-sold products just to meet their goals, the consumer group found.

The research, which was carried out between October and early this month, comes as banks battle to win back customer trust and as complaints about the payment protection insurance (PPI) mis-selling scandal continue to surge beyond expectations, with the total bill predicted to reach around £15bn across the industry.

Which? said its survey of branch and call centre staff at HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays and Santander indicated that many workers are still being driven towards putting “sales before service”.

Of the staff surveyed who have a sales role, more than a third said they are not comfortable with the level of pressure placed on them to push a product.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: “Senior bankers say the culture is changing but this shows it just isn’t filtering through to staff on the front line who remain under real pressure to put sales before service, even after incentives are taken away.

“This proves the need for big change across the industry and for bankers to put customers first, not sales.”

Around a third of people in a sales role said they felt under pressure from a boss and two-thirds said they are sometimes or always told to sell more.

Just 6 per cent of those who were told to sell more said this was because it was in the customer’s best interest.

More than 550 bank staff were interviewed for the Which? survey, of which 371 have a sales role. Of those, 298 said they had sales targets to meet. Which? said the findings were broadly similar across all five banking giants.

A spokesman for the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said that any incentives for front line staff are now based on clear criteria related to customer service.

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