Bank employees react to revelations on FCAC report

Workers at Big Six banks say pressure to upsell customers continues undetected, and has increased

Bank employees react to revelations on FCAC report

It has been several week since the revelation that the FCAC report on banking sales tactics was weakened from its initial drafts — reportedly after being influenced by the banks under review. Since then, several employees at the banks have come forward to describe continued pressure to upsell clients, as well as increased sales targets even after the report came out in March last year.

“When I saw the regulator gave the report to the banks, I couldn't believe it,” an unnamed CIBC call-centre employee said in a CBC News report. The employee said she was among the hundreds of Big-Six bank workers — including some 200 bank employees and 400 more employees working in various capacities — interviewed by the FCAC during its review.

The CIBC call-centre employee reported that there were efforts “at every telephone banking level” to sell to the client. She said she chose not to be transparent about the widespread pressure to meet sales targets during the review process for fear that her disclosures wouldn’t be kept confidential.

“Putting clients at the centre of all we do is our priority every day,” CIBC Director of Public Affairs Trish Tervit told CBC News. “We have a strong, client-focused culture and we continuously review our business to ensure we do what's right for our clients.”

A Scotiabank financial advisor also expressed frustration at the reported weakening of FCAC’s review. “The banks shouldn't have had any say in it, in any way,” he told CBC News.

Reporting a sharp rise in his sales targets since last November, the advisor shared an internal image from the bank showing how employees can earn more sales units by quoting a higher interest rate on a mortgage to a customer. “They [customers] don't know they could've got a lower mortgage rate,” he said, adding that such upselling would be hard for the FCAC to track.

Similarly, he described how bank employees are given twice as much credit to steer clients toward mutual funds — which allow guaranteed annual fees for the bank — as they get for putting clients in GICs.

“Any reports that Scotiabank has set aggressive sales targets are inaccurate and misleading,” said Scotiabank Director of Canadian Banking Communications Patricia Hsiung in an email to CBC News. “Scotiabank remains committed to delivering an exceptional, transparent and trustworthy experience for our customers that prioritizes our relationships over products."

Another Scotiabank financial advisor in a different city contacted the news outlet, showing that his sales targets had also increased considerably since last fall. “We're lying to our clients. Upselling all the time,” he said, claiming that those who don’t will lose their job. Aside from glossing over details on mutual-fund fees, he said he’s compelled to raise credit-card limits without asking clients if it would be good for them.

The Small Investor Protection Association (SIPA), a consumer advocacy group, has called for a public inquiry into the FCAC and Canada’s financial-services industry based on how the regulator handled its bank review.

“There appears to be a far too 'cozy' relationship between the banking industry, the FCAC and the

Finance Department. The public cannot rely on the FCAC to regulate, or the Finance Department to allow for an independent review of the system, and its regulation,” SIPA said in a statement earlier this week. “Canadians are entrusting their hard-earned money, savings and futures with what should be trusted institutions and individuals.”


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