Barclays Bank: Not treating customers fairly starts – and ends – in the board room
“Lying to customers, mis-selling products, fraudulent accounts, and unscrupulous sales tactics – an undercover investigation reveals the hidden side of a high-street bank.” Wednesday night’s BBCWhistleblower investigation was based on an under-cover reporter’s nine months of employment by Barclays Bank, in a call centre and in a branch. Nobody watching the filmed evidence of shockingly cynical practices could have avoided a conclusion (not over-played by the film makers) that these were a direct response to remuneration incentives put in place by senior management of retail banking.
This is what people like me have been banging on about for years. It makes no difference whether the misdirected incentives are internal payments or commissions to third parties, whether they operate by rewarding or punishing different staff behaviours, by encouragement or bullying: the incentives are put there for a purpose. If the FSA means anything by opening up its ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ front in the war against financial service companies’ cultural flaws, it must treat this as evidence of a problem in the board room. That is where it must deal with it.