Canadian bank employees admit to breaking the law for fear of being fired

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Erica Johnson
CBC News : March 10, 2017

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.

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 upsell 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 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.”

[…]

TD employees tell Go Public the pressure to deceive customers extends beyond front-line staff to workers handling wealth management.

“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.”

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.”

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.”

(read the full article at CBC)

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