Bank culture warrants further investigation, Senate hears

By Larissa Waterson
 — 1 minute read

A Senate committee has said further investigation is needed into a “powerful driver of frontline behaviour” by bank staff that harmed employees and consumers and was missed by the Sedgwick review.

In a hearing on Wednesday, the Senate economics references committee on consumer protection in the banking, insurance and financial sector found that, while the Sedgwick review shed light on the conflicted staff remuneration models implemented within banks to the detriment of customers, further investigation is needed into the staff performance management systems used.

Addressing the hearing, Finance Sector Union national secretary Julia Angrisano gave specific examples of high-pressure staff performance management systems used in banks.

Ms Angrisano referenced evidence given by a former ANZ employee relating to performance targets.

“Each week I am involved in a sales meeting where my sales performance is discussed in front of others and if my performance is assessed below par it can involve being told that I'm not trying hard enough or that if I don't improve my results I will be placed on the bank's performance management system," Ms Angrisano quoted the banker as saying. "This negative feedback is routinely provided in front of my peers."

Members regularly inform the FSU of threats from superiors to place them on performance management for not being on target, she said.

Following Ms Angrisano’s statement, the committee said that further investigation is warranted into the effects of performance management systems on poor customer selling behaviour by frontline staff.

“In relation to the Sedgwick review it seems that in relation to what you have just said, that Mr Sedgwick focusing on remuneration arrangements, commissions etc for frontline staff – that the review has really missed a most powerful driver of behaviour amongst frontline staff, which is performance management systems – which is what probably causes the greatest degree of concern and stress for your members,” a committee member said.

“It seems to me that there is a misalignment here in terms of what we need to look at to really get to grips with what is driving the behaviour of frontline staff.”

While Ms Angrisano acknowledged that the banks have until 2020 to implement recommendations from reviews like Sedgwick's, she voiced member concern over a disconnect between executives and branch managers.

Ms Angrisano referenced the comments of one FSU member who said, “Each year NAB conducts its employee feedback survey. In a recent survey it was found that there was an overwhelming negative response to the question as to whether NAB acted with integrity.

“Rather than acknowledging the views expressed by employees, NAB just sent around regional management to explain to us that perhaps we just misunderstood the question. In my experience senior managers are either unaware or disengaged with what's actually happening within branches and the types of discussions that we are forced to have with our customers."

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Bank culture warrants further investigation, Senate hears
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