30 Mar

I feel duped- banks-deceptive-titles-put-investments-at-risk CBC Go Public reports

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bank-s-deceptive-titles-put-investments-at-risk-1.4044702?platform=hootsuite

Mike Black says he feels “completely betrayed” after trusting RBC Dominion Securities employees with impressive-sounding titles to manage his life savings, only to earn far below the market average for six years.

“I worked 35 years at two jobs and saved up a considerable amount due to the fact that I didn’t have a pension and would need money for retirement,” said Black, who managed to put away nearly $1 million.

An RBC “financial advisor” — “advisor” with an “o” rather than an “e” is important, but more on that later — invested his money in mutual funds, but when the portfolio performed poorly for three years and Black threatened to leave the bank, he was sent to an RBC “vice-president” who would manage his money.

Black received a financial plan that claimed his nest egg would earn “about six per cent in annual interest” when invested in different mutual funds, mostly owned by RBC.
His investments actually earned less than three per cent and cost Black more than $30,000 in fees over six years.

“How is it that you end up getting a return of this kind over this period of time, when this is to be managed by a professional and we pay such high fees?”

‘All they are doing is selling what the bank wants them to sell.’
– Mike Black, RBC investor
Turns out, the RBC vice-president was actually licensed as something called a “dealing representative” — a salesperson.

“I feel duped,” Black said. “My portfolio is my pension. All they are doing is selling what the bank wants them to sell.”

In an email to Go Public, RBC said its “internal review found that the portfolio was appropriate based on the risks and objectives the client communicated to us.”

Deceptive employee titles

A recent report by the Small Investor Protection Association found there are 121,000 people registered as financial professionals in Canada, and the vast majority are registered as dealing representatives — salespeople licensed to sell financial investments.

Only about 4,000 of these registered financial professionals have a fiduciary duty, which is a legal obligation to act in the client’s best interest.
Larry Elford says thousands of bank employees across Canada are salespeople with fancy titles. (Dave Rae/CBC )

“The game today is to earn clients’ trust,” said Larry Elford, a former certified investment manager with RBC and lead researcher of the SIPA report. “And never let them know that you are actually a commissioned salesperson and you don’t have to honour that trust.”

The stakes are high, says Elford, who points out that a two per cent management fee on mutual funds typically cuts an investor’s retirement fund by about half over a 35-year period.

What’s in a vowel?

A common trick for misleading customers, according to Elford, is the banking industry’s use of the term “financial advisor” — spelled with an “o.”

He says “advisor” is an unregulated title that anyone can use, whereas the title “adviser” — spelled with an “e” — can only be used if the employee has a fiduciary responsibility to the client.

“Advisors can sell you the third, fourth, fifth or least beneficial product to you,” Elford said. “They do that a great deal of the time if it makes them more commissions, or if their bank manager is telling them they need to sell more of the house-brand product.”

The Ontario Securities Commission confirms that “adviser” is a legal term under securities law that describes a person or company that is registered to give advice about securities, whereas “advisor” is not.

In an email to Go Public, the Canadian Securities Administrators confirmed that it does not regulate most titles used by employees in the financial industry.

‘It’s completely about selling’

Many bank employees who’ve contacted Go Public say they act more like salespeople than anything else because of pressures from “high up” to hit revenue targets. CBC is concealing their identities to protect their jobs.

“I would say 90 per cent of my day is trying to hit targets,” said a financial services representative at TD Bank.

“I have to go [meet with] my manager daily and go through each customer that’s scheduled for me and see how many ‘units’ I can get from that customer.”

‘I had zero training and had to learn on the go.’
– TD financial advisor who recently quit
She says if a client has money in a savings account, she’s encouraged to get them to buy TD mutual funds instead of giving financial advice she thinks would be better, such as paying down a credit card or high-interest loan.

“It’s completely about selling,” she said.

A TD financial advisor who quit last month says he was “thrown into the role” and expected to learn on the job.
A TD financial services representative who contacted Go Public said 90 per cent of her day is spent trying to hit sales targets. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

“I had zero training and had to learn everything on the go,” he said.

A CIBC financial advisor says he spends his day selling investments that may not be in his customers’ interests, even though they think they’re getting impartial advice.

“The term financial advisors is bank jargon for salesperson,” he said. “At least in other industries they are more open about it. You sell cars? Well, you are a car salesperson. We are not advising people on anything. We are just trying to make sales.”

Employees at Canada’s 5 big banks speak out about pressure to dupe customers
TD teller says customers pay price for ‘unrealistic’ sales targets
An RBC branch manager in B.C. says tellers are now called “client advisors,” and are required to get a licence to sell mutual funds.

“How do you expect a 20-year-old employee who’s getting paid $12 an hour to provide advice with the title ‘client advisor,’ when they’re really just equipped to sell? It’s not fair to anybody … you’re putting clients at risk.”

In a statement, RBC says it “stands behind the advice and support” its “investment advisors provide to clients.”

Bank employees at all levels at BMO and Scotiabank told Go Public they, too, feel their titles are misleading because they’re mostly under pressure to sell bank-owned mutual funds and other products to boost the bottom line.

In previous statements to Go Public, TD, CIBC and Scotiabank said their clients are their top priority and they expect their employees to behave ethically.

‘Self-regulating doesn’t work very well’

Stan Buell, founder of the Small Investor Protection Association, says he’s heard too many stories from people who thought a financial advisor was going to look out for their best interests.
Stan Buell, founder of the Small Investor Protection Association, says bank employees should be called salespeople if that’s their role.

“I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people who’ve been victimized,” Buell said. “And every one trusted their advisor.”

He said he doubts any of the advisors were actually advisers — with an “e” and a fiduciary duty. “They’re all salespeople, trained in sales.”

He says banks and other financial institutions need tougher regulations.

“Self-regulating doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It must be an outside agency that is not composed of the industry to have the power to handle complaints, to investigate and authorize and even pay restitution for the victims of the financial institutions.”

As a start, Buell would like Canada’s big banks to be more transparent and call their employees salespeople, not “advisors” or other titles that suggest they’re working in the customer’s interest when they’re actually serving their employer.

Call centre employees for big banks reveal upsell pressures
ANALYSIS| Banks are businesses, and you are a profit centre
Mike Black says he took his money out of those fee-based accounts at RBC Dominion Securities and hopes for better luck with his next investment.

But his experience has left him shaken.

“I’ve always been very trusting, conscientious, both me and my wife. We’ve walked the walk. And quite frankly, I feel like it’s been a hit and run.”

30 Mar

Hear how we saved Stewart of Coquitlam’s family of 5 $1,800.00 per month

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

https://soundcloud.com/cknw/the-mortgage-show-april-12017-stewart-interview Hear from 2nd time client of #Coquitlam Stewart that we helped redo his mortgage and save $ 1,800.00 a month which sure helps being #selfemployed and having 3 little munchkins #wehaveamortgageforthat

The key to their success was coming to us for the right mortgage the 1st time, this allowed them to take advantage of future opportunities and changes in the market and lifestyle

The Angela Calla Mortgage Team gives you clarity on the best mortgage by being transparent, unbiased free mortgage advise with choice. We are here to help you personally with your mortgage at 604-802-3983 or callateam@dominionlending.ca

30 Mar

Hear how saving $950 a month with Angela Calla Mortgage Team help feels

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Posted by: Angela Calla

Hear from our 2nd time client Vinny of #Vancouver that we helped save $950/ a month by redoing him mortgage from some debt he accumulated while working full time and going to school to change careers #wehaveamortgageforthat

The Angela Calla Mortgage Team gives you clarity on the best mortgage by being transparent, unbiased free mortgage advise with choice. We are here to help you personally with your mortgage at 604-802-3983 or callateam@dominionlending.ca

30 Mar

CBC News-‘I feel duped’: Why bank employees with impressive but misleading titles could cost you big time

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

Mike Black says he feels “completely betrayed” after trusting RBC Dominion Securities employees with impressive-sounding titles to manage his life savings, only to earn far below the market average for six years.
“I worked 35 years at two jobs and saved up a considerable amount due to the fact that I didn’t have a pension and would need money for retirement,” said Black, who managed to put away nearly $1 million.

An RBC “financial advisor” — “advisor” with an “o” rather than an “e” is important, but more on that later — invested his money in mutual funds, but when the portfolio performed poorly for three years and Black threatened to leave the bank, he was sent to an RBC “vice-president” who would manage his money.

Black received a financial plan that claimed his nest egg would earn “about six per cent in annual interest” when invested in different mutual funds, mostly owned by RBC.

Been Wronged? Contact GoPublic@cbc.ca

His investments actually earned less than three per cent and cost Black more than $30,000 in fees over six years.

“How is it that you end up getting a return of this kind over this period of time, when this is to be managed by a professional and we pay such high fees?”

Turns out, the RBC vice-president was actually licensed as something called a “dealing representative” — a salesperson.
“I feel duped,” Black said. “My portfolio is my pension. All they are doing is selling what the bank wants them to sell.”

In an email to Go Public, RBC said its “internal review found that the portfolio was appropriate based on the risks and objectives the client communicated to us.”

Deceptive employee titles

A recent report by the Small Investor Protection Association found there are 121,000 people registered as financial professionals in Canada, and the vast majority are registered as dealing representatives — salespeople licensed to sell financial investments.   

Only about 4,000 of these registered financial professionals have a fiduciary duty, which is a legal obligation to act in the client’s best interest.

“The game today is to earn clients’ trust,” said Larry Elford, a former certified investment manager with RBC and lead researcher of the SIPA report. “And never let them know that you are actually a commissioned salesperson and you don’t have to honour that trust.”

The stakes are high, says Elford, who points out that a two per cent management fee on mutual funds typically cuts an investor’s retirement fund by about half over a 35-year period.
What’s in a vowel?
A common trick for misleading customers, according to Elford, is the banking industry’s use of the term “financial advisor” — spelled with an “o.”

He says “advisor” is an unregulated title that anyone can use, whereas the title “adviser” — spelled with an “e” — can only be used if the employee has a fiduciary responsibility to the client.
“Advisors can sell you the third, fourth, fifth or least beneficial product to you,” Elford said. “They do that a great deal of the time if it makes them more commissions, or if their bank manager is telling them they need to sell more of the house-brand product.”

The Ontario Securities Commission confirms that “adviser” is a legal term under securities law that describes a person or company that is registered to give advice about securities, whereas “advisor” is not.

In an email to Go Public, the Canadian Securities Administrators confirmed that it does not regulate most titles used by employees in the financial industry.
‘It’s completely about selling’ Many bank employees who’ve contacted Go Public say they act more like salespeople than anything else because of pressures from “high up” to hit revenue targets. CBC is concealing their identities to protect their jobs.

“I would say 90 per cent of my day is trying to hit targets,” said a financial services representative at TD Bank.

“I have to go [meet with] my manager daily and go through each customer that’s scheduled for me and see how many ‘units’ I can get from that customer.”

She says if a client has money in a savings account, she’s encouraged to get them to buy TD mutual funds instead of giving financial advice she thinks would be better, such as paying down a credit card or high-interest loan.

“It’s completely about selling,” she said.

A TD financial advisor who quit last month says he was “thrown into the role” and expected to learn on the job.

“I had zero training and had to learn everything on the go,” he said.
A CIBC financial advisor says he spends his day selling investments that may not be in his customers’ interests, even though they think they’re getting impartial advice.

“The term financial advisors is bank jargon for salesperson,” he said. “At least in other industries they are more open about it. You sell cars? Well, you are a car salesperson. We are not advising people on anything. We are just trying to make sales.”

An RBC branch manager in B.C. says tellers are now called “client advisors,” and are required to get a licence to sell mutual funds.
“How do you expect a 20-year-old employee who’s getting paid $12 an hour to provide advice with the title ‘client advisor,’ when they’re really just equipped to sell? It’s not fair to anybody … you’re putting clients at risk.”
In a statement, RBC says it “stands behind the advice and support” its “investment advisors provide to clients.” 

Bank employees at all levels at BMO and Scotiabank told Go Public they, too, feel their titles are misleading because they’re mostly under pressure to sell bank-owned mutual funds and other products to boost the bottom line.
In previous statements to Go Public, TD, CIBC and Scotiabank said their clients are their top priority and they expect their employees to behave ethically. 

‘Self-regulating doesn’t work very well’
Stan Buell, founder of the Small Investor Protection Association, says he’s heard too many stories from people who thought a financial advisor was going to look out for their best interests.

“I’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people who’ve been victimized,” Buell said. “And every one trusted their advisor.”

He said he doubts any of the advisors were actually advisers — with an “e” and a fiduciary duty. “They’re all salespeople, trained in sales.”
He says banks and other financial institutions need tougher regulations.

“Self-regulating doesn’t work very well,” he said. “It must be an outside agency that is not composed of the industry to have the power to handle complaints, to investigate and authorize and even pay restitution for the victims of the financial institutions.”

As a start, Buell would like Canada’s big banks to be more transparent and call their employees salespeople, not “advisors” or other titles that suggest they’re working in the customer’s interest when they’re actually serving their employer.

Mike Black says he took his money out of those fee-based accounts at RBC Dominion Securities and hopes for better luck with his next investment.
But his experience has left him shaken.  

“I’ve always been very trusting, conscientious, both me and my wife. We’ve walked the walk. And quite frankly, I feel like it’s been a hit and run.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/bank-s-deceptive-titles-put-investments-at-risk-1.4044702

The Angela Calla Mortgage Team gives you clarity on the best mortgage by being transparent, unbiased free mortgage advise with choice. We are here to help you personally with your mortgage at 604-802-3983 or callateam@dominionlending.ca

16 Mar

Hear how Val saved over $1,300.00 monthly with Angela Calla Mortgage Team

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

Val of #coquitlam joins Angela Calla Mortgage Team on CKNW to share how we saved her $1,388.33 monthly by redoing her #mortgage which means:
1. She doesn’t have to sell her house
2. Go back to work out of retirement!
3. It relieves the stress of her feeling like she may have to burden her children.
I would say that’s pretty life changing & the difference of your options when you work with someone who gives you the power of choice #wehaveamortgageforthat #itpaystoknow #whenyouknowbetteryoudobetter

Contact The Angela Calla Mortgage Team directly to help you at 604-802-3983 or callateam@dominionlending.ca

16 Mar

Hear how we saved Doug $1,700.00 a month with Angela Calla Mortgage Team help

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

Just because your existing #mortgagelender will offer you a #renewal and what appears to be a good rate, doesn’t mean it’s the best for you! Doug of #portcoquitlam joins Angela Calla Mortgage Team on CKNW to share how we saved him $1,700.00 monthly by us redoing his mortgage. He wants those he cares about, not to make the costly mistake he did for decades dealing with the lenders himself. We can’t rewind time however saving $1,700.00 moving forward sure helps ease the pain. #wehaveamortgageforthat #whenyouknowbetteryoudobetter https://soundcloud.com/cknw/the-mortgage-show-march-182017-doug-interview

Contact The Angela Calla Mortgage Team directly to help you 604-802-3983 or callateam@dominionlending.ca

15 Mar

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

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

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

The deluge is fuelling multiple calls for a parliamentary inquiry, even as the banks claim they’re acting in customers’ best interests.

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.

“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.”
CBC has agreed to protect their identities because the workers are concerned about current and future employment.

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.”
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/banks-upselling-go-public-1.4023575

“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.”

A CIBC teller said, “I am expected to aggressively sell products, especially Visa. Hit those targets, who cares if it’s hurting customers.”

Former BMO employee speaks out

A financial services manager who left BMO in Calgary two months ago said he quit after having a full-blown panic attack in his branch manager’s office as she threatened to stifle his banking career because he hadn’t met sales targets.

“It was like the only thing they cared about at BMO,” he said. “If you weren’t selling, you weren’t worth having around.”

This former BMO financial services manager says his manager told him to lie to customers to improve sales revenue. (Colin Hall/CBC)

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

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.
He said he was “pressured to lie and cheat customers,” but refused to do it.

More than 1,000 emails

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.

Those stories, experts say, prompted the largest drop in TD Bank shares since the financial market downturn of 2009.

‘We are straight up told to tell false stories (lie) to sell products.’
– TD insurance broker wrote in an email

They also resulted in hundreds more emails from TD workers past and present, 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.”

He admits to acting unethically because he says he feared being fired.

“I bumped up credit cards, overdraft or account types just because of the pressures.”

A TD insurance broker in Barrie, Ont., wrote, “We are straight up told to tell false stories (lie) to sell products.”
And an RBC financial adviser told Go Public, “We are all doing it.”

‘Shaming’ and ‘bullying’

Many bank employees described pressure tactics used by managers to try to increase sales.

An RBC certified financial planner in Guelph, Ont., said she’s been threatened with pay cuts and losing her job if she doesn’t upsell enough customers.

“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.”
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.

Similar white board results are reported at Scotiabank branches in Toronto.

“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.”

Stressed out

Some of the big five bank employees said they’re so stressed by expectations to hit sales targets, they’re on medical leave. Others said they had to quit.

They wrote about their jobs causing “insomnia,” “nausea,” “anxiety” and “depression.”

A CIBC small business associate who quit in January after nine years on the job said her district branch manager wasn’t pleased with her sales results when she was pregnant.

“She came into my office and decided to harass me. I went into a full-blown panic attack.”

She said the worst part of her job was having young families in her office who agreed to re-mortgage their homes because of debt.

“We told them we were helping them, but essentially we were extending more credit so the vicious cycle would … continue and we, in turn, would make a sale,” she said.
While working in Waterloo, Ont., she says her manager also instructed staff to tell all new international students looking to open a chequing account that they had to open a “student package,” which also included a savings account, credit card and overdraft.

“That is unfair and not the law, but we were told to do it for all of them.”

Big banks decline interview requests

Go Public requested interviews with the CEOs of the five big banks — BMO, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD — but all declined.

Instead, they sent statements, essentially saying the banks act in the best interest of their clients, and that employees are expected to follow codes of conduct.

The statements did not address employees’ concerns about high-pressure sales tactics.

Calls for parliamentary inquiry

NDP finance critic Alexandre Boulerice is now calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the sales practices of Canada’s banks.

“We expect banks to be honest with their clients … and now we are learning that those employees are under considerable pressure to sell, sell, sell to boost profits of the banks,” he said. “This is so greedy. It is not acceptable.”

Stan Buell, founder of the Small Investor Protection Association, agrees it’s time for the federal government to take action.

“We’ve got a culture that exists on greed, lying and deceiving people, and it’s not going to end soon,” he said.

“This is why the only solution really is to have government step in and look after the Canadian people. Because I feel the Canadian people deserve better than to serve as grist for the mill of these great financial organizations.”

Stan Buell from the Small Investor Protection Association says the government needs to step in. (CBC)

A spokesperson for Finance Minister Bill Morneau said the minister wasn’t available for an interview, but sent a statement that says Morneau “expects all financial institutions in Canada to adhere to the highest standards when it comes to their consumer protection obligations.”

Shareholders concerned

TD shareholder Allan Best says he’s concerned about more than the bank’s bottom line after last week’s stock dip, telling Go Public, “It is my position that employees are our most important asset and we have to do all we can to keep them in good mental and physical condition.”

The emails Go Public received from bank employees suggest not only have the sales targets increased dramatically in recent years, so has the pressure to meet them.

“I want the world to know how much pressure we are all under on a daily basis,” wrote an RBC teller in Ontario.

“We hit our target and the next week, they up them again. It’s out of control.”

10 Mar

CBC News-‘We do it because our jobs are at stake’:TD bank employees admit to breaking the law for fear of being fired

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

A CBC report earlier this week about TD employees pressured to meet high sales revenue goals has touched off a firestorm of reaction from TD employees across the country — some of whom admit they have broken the law at their customers’ expense in a desperate bid to meet sales targets and keep their jobs.
Hundreds of current and former TD Bank Group employees wrote to Go Public describing a pressure cooker environment they say is “poisoned,” “stress inducing,” “insane” and has “zero focus on ethics.”  

Some employees admitted they broke the law, claiming they were desperate to earn points towards sales goals they have to reach every three months or risk being fired. CBC has agreed to conceal their identities because their confessions could have legal ramifications.

TD insists all its employees are to follow the company’s code of ethics, but many employees who contacted Go Public said that’s impossible to do given the sales expectations.

“I’ve increased people’s lines of credit by a couple thousand dollars, just to get SR [sales revenue] points,” said a teller who worked for several years at a TD branch in Windsor, Ont.

He admits he didn’t tell the customers, which is a violation of the federal Bank Act.

A former teller at this TD branch in Windsor, Ont., admits he increased customers’ lines of credit without their knowledge to meet his sales targets.

Another teller with over 20 years’ experience at an Ontario TD branch said she has increased customers’ overdraft protection amounts without their knowledge, and increased their TD Visa card limits on the sly — all to earn units towards her sales revenue target.

Many TD workers wrote to say they are on medical leave, suffering from anxiety and/or depression because of the constant pressure to up sell customers.

One teller on sick leave described how a manager stood behind her three times a day, pushing her to sell more.

‘They just really stress you out … I’d be be thinking … ‘What can I do tomorrow to try and get sales?”
– TD teller 

“They just really stress you out and say, ‘You’re not doing good. I need you to do double the amount you’ve been doing.’ I couldn’t sleep. I’d be thinking … ‘What can I do tomorrow to try and get sales?'”

She admits to upgrading customers to a higher-fee account without telling them.

“Because that gives us sales revenue. And the customers don’t have to sign for it.”

‘I wouldn’t have noticed the $29.95’ Bev Beaton believes she’s been a victim of a TD teller desperate to generate sales revenue.

In January, she noticed a service charge on her account for $29.95. When she called TD to ask about it, she was told it was because she was in an account that required her to keep a minimum monthly balance of $5,000 or she would be charged that monthly fee.

Bev Beaton says a teller at her TD branch in Victoria moved her into a higher-fee account without her knowledge. (Bev Beaton )

“I said, ‘I did not ask for this account. There’s no way I would have asked for this account.’ And [the bank employee] said, ‘You must have.'”

When Beaton checked her statements, she saw that she’d been moved to the higher-fee account last May, but only noticed when her balance dropped below $5,000 for the first time in December and she was hit with the service charge.

“I was very annoyed,” Beaton said. “And I think it’s dishonest. Because if I wasn’t looking at my statement closely, I wouldn’t have noticed the $29.95.”

Financial advisers also admit deceit:TD employees tell Go Public the pressure to deceive customers extends beyond front-line staff to workers handling wealth management.
‘I have invested clients’ savings into funds which were not suitable, because of the … pressure.’ – TD financial adviser 

“We do it because our jobs are at stake,” said one financial adviser in Ontario. She admits she acted in her own interest rather than that of her clients after being put on a Performance Improvement Plan — a program that involves coaching and could result in termination of employment — because she wasn’t meeting her sales targets.

“I have invested clients’ savings into funds which were not suitable, because of the SR [sales revenue] pressure,” she said. “That’s very difficult to admit. I didn’t do this lightly.”  

‘I was forced to lie to customers’A former TD financial adviser in Calgary says he would downplay the risk of products that gave him a big boost towards his quarterly goal.”I was forced to lie to customers, just to meet the sales revenue targets,” he said.”I was always asked by my managers to attach unnecessary products or services to the original sale just to increase the sales points — and not care if the customer can afford it or not.

TD teller says clients pay price for bank’s ‘unrealistic’ sales targets. A financial adviser who worked for six years in Nanaimo, B.C., before quitting says “people eventually snap, or lose all sense of themselves and do anything to close sales.” “I have had multiple conversations with branch and district managers. These conversation lead to my being asked if I was still the right fit for the job.”Employees must abide by code of ethics: TD 

In statement provided to Go Public, TD spokesperson Daria Hill wrote every employee must “act ethically and … not allow a focus on business results to come before our focus on customers.”

In an internal letter written to TD employees and obtained by Go Public, Andy Pilkington, executive vice-president of branch banking, wrote, “We don’t believe the [CBC] story is an accurate portrayal of our culture,” but said the report was an opportunity “to pause, reflect and ask ourselves … how we can do better for our people and our customers.”

One TD teller balked at Pilkington’s letter, sending an email to Go Public that says, “Maybe if they stood back for a moment and thought about how they have put so much pressure on employees (with ridiculous sales goals) they wouldn’t be in this situation right now!”

Concern for seniors:News that bank employees are required to meet what they consider to be extreme sales goals — with some even acting underhandedly — is a concern to Wanda Morris, vice-president of advocacy for CARP, a national advocacy association for people over age 50.

“As people age, there’s a little bit of decline in their cognitive functioning so they trust others and are potentially at risk from somebody who doesn’t have their best interests at heart,” she said.

Wanda Morris of CARP, an advocacy group for Canadians over age 50, wants legislation that requires bank employees to act in a customer’s best interest. (CBC)

“Canadian banks are some of the most profitable companies in this country. I hope we’ll see … some more empathy towards both employees and customers.”

Calls for government intervention:

Democracy Watch founder Duff Conacher says the fact that hundreds of bank employees have written to express concern over their high-pressure sales environment is an indication that Ottawa needs to act.

“We need the federal government to put rules in place and stop being so negligent — allowing the banks to get away with this unethical gouging and unethical sales practices,” he said.

Democracy Watch co-founder Duff Conacher says now is the time for people to push the federal government to improve bank regulations because the Bank Act is currently under review.

“The fact that the CBC is revealing this as opposed to [the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada] or the ombudsman for banking services shows just how much the government has failed to ensure that those protection watchdog agencies have the powers, have the mandate and the resources to do their job.”

Conacher says now is the time for people to pressure Ottawa to tighten bank regulations because the federal Bank Act is currently under review.

“I just find it amazing that we haven’t seen any political party or politician stand up and say, ‘We’re going to make these key changes to ensure that banks are required to serve everyone fairly … and look out for their customers’ best interests and not just try and gouge them.'”
with files from James Roberts 

6 Mar

CBC Reports How TD puts ethics aside- pressure to sell

General

Posted by: Angela Calla

Three TD Bank Group employees are speaking out about what they say is “incredible pressure” to squeeze profits from customers by signing them up for products and services they don’t need.

Read the full story & video’s here http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/td-tellers-desperate-to-meet-increasing-sales-goals-1.4006743

The longtime employees say their jobs have become similar to that of the stereotypical used car salesman, as they’re pushed to upsell customers to reach rising sales revenue targets.

They say there has always been a sales component to the job, but the demand to meet “unrealistic” quarterly goals has intensified in recent years as profits from low interest rates have dropped and banks became required — after the financial meltdown of 2008 — to keep more capital on hand to protect against a downturn in the market.

“I’m in survival mode now,” says a teller who has worked at TD for more than 15 years, “because it’s a choice between keeping my job and feeding my family … or doing what’s right for the customer.

She and the two managers who contacted Go Public have worked more than 50 years combined at the bank. CBC has agreed to conceal their identities and location because they are worried about being fired.

“When I come into work, I have to put my ethics aside and not do what’s right for the customer,” says the teller.
Documents provided to Go Public show the teller’s sales revenue goals have more than tripled in the past three years.

“You don’t know what it’s like to go to bed at night, knowing your job is now to set people up for financial failure,” says the teller, her voice cracking.

Go Public has heard from TD tellers in several Canadian cities who say they quit their jobs because the pressure to push products was so extreme.

“I was made to feel as if I was committing a huge wrong for looking out for the best interests of my customer over the interests of the bank,” says Dalisha Dyal, who worked as a TD teller in Vancouver for four years.

Another TD teller says the relentless pressure to meet sales numbers is so severe, the teller is currently on a medical leave.

Teller screens highlight potential sales

The three bank employees who initially contacted Go Public explained how tellers upsell customers: when a customer keys in a PIN at the teller counter, a gold star lights up on the teller’s computer screen, indicating that “Advice Opportunities Exist.”
When a teller clicks on the star, products and services the customer hasn’t purchased pop up, such as overdraft protection, credit card or line of credit.

Each time a teller gets a customer to sign up for one of those options, it counts towards meeting their sales targets.

“Customers are prey to me,” says the teller. “I will do anything I can to make my [sales] goal.”

TD disputes pressure to sell

TD Bank Group declined a request to be interviewed, but sent an email that disputes the allegations that products and services are sold to ill-informed customers who may not need them or realize how much they cost.

‘We will only achieve our goals by doing the right thing for our customers.’
– Daria Hill, TD Bank Group
“Our expectations are that our employees should never sell a customer a product that doesn’t fill a need,” spokesperson Daria Hill wrote.

Hill said having “metrics” and “goals” is a good business strategy, but that “we will only achieve our goals by doing the right thing for our customers.”

Hill says customers have said they want TD employees “to know them, understand their needs, give them proactive advice and ask them about how we can best meet their financial needs.”

That explains why customer profiles are flagged for products, services and pre-approved offers, Hill says.

TD reports record profits

The employees’ allegations come amid reports last week of record profits for Canadian banks.

TD Bank Group reported fiscal first quarter earnings of $2.5 billion — up 14 per cent from a year ago. Revenue rose six per cent to $9.1 billion — making it the largest bank in Canada, based on assets, surpassing RBC.

ANALYSIS|​ Can Canadian banks keep squeezing out more profits?
TD beats expectations, reports $2.53B net income
The TD employees say elderly customers are a common target because they’ve grown to trust their tellers over the years.

“There are elderly customers who have fought for us — they have an army pension,” says the teller. “And here I am, setting them up with all these service fees and they don’t have a clue what’s going on.”

Both the managers sometimes work the front counter and say there’s a big push by their branch manager to sign up people for overdraft protection, so sometimes clients with large balances get it, too.

“Customers pay enough in service charges,” says one manager. “They shouldn’t have to worry … ‘What has my teller added to my profile today?'”

‘More pressure on us’

“The higher-ups are also putting more pressure on us to get tellers to achieve these goals,” says the other manager.

“And if they don’t … our job is to make sure that they understand that they’re no longer right for this job.”

“I feel bad for what they’re making me do,” she says.

TD branch
The TD employees Go Public interviewed say the push to make higher profits is turning some customers away. (CBC)

When the managers expressed concerns to their branch manager and district vice-president, they say they were asked to consider whether they were still “a good fit” for the job.

Documents obtained by Go Public show tellers who fail to reach their sales goals are called “underperformers” and placed on a “Performance Improvement Plan,” which involves daily coaching and monitoring by managers. If sales performance doesn’t improve, employees are warned “employment could be terminated.”

In the statement from TD, Hill says “Performance Improvement Plans are intended to support our leaders and people managers in helping employees improve their overall job performance and are intended to help employees be successful in their role.”

Short-term gains

Pushing products on customers to maximize shareholder profits may produce short-term gains, but it’s not in a bank’s long-term interest, says Laurence Booth, a professor of finance at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
“If their [TD’s] employees start looking at everybody that comes into the bank as … somebody to try to make as much money off as possible, then the result is they’re going to be squeezing short-run profits,” he says.

“But sooner or later, these things come back to bite you.”

Booth says all banks want to be known as “trustworthy,” but that trust can erode quickly if a bank gets a poor reputation.

Hidden camera test

Go Public conducted a hidden camera test at five Vancouver TD branches to see what happens at the teller counter.

One teller offered to “activate” overdraft protection — not mentioning that there would be a fee.

She also suggested opening an account with monthly service fees of $29.95, when a “basic chequing account” — with fees of $3.95 — was requested.

Another TD teller put a Go Public tester in an account with fees of $14.95 — never mentioning the $3.95 account that would have met her stated needs. He also tried to sell a TD Aeroplan credit card, with annual fees of $120, and suggested the tester open two other accounts.

Tellers at three TD branches didn’t try to upsell the testers.

Tellers now called ‘front-line advisers’

One manager pointed out that tellers are no longer called “customer service reps” — an example, she says, of how far TD has shifted the focus from its customers.

“We’re now called front-line advisers,” says the teller. “That would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.”

All three TD employees say they’ve considered looking for work elsewhere, but what they want most is for their employer to listen to their concerns — for the sake of its employees, and its customers.

With files from James Roberts

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Bank employees say their jobs depend on aggressively upselling customers2:43

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