ex-HSBC employee reveals high pressure sales culture
A former employee of HSBC has revealed that the sales culture within her branch was so bad she was forced to move jobs into the bank’s head office.
During Which?’s Future of Banking Commission in London yesterday, the consumer group put forward a panel of consumers forward to give their opinion of the banking industry.
Gill Kirk, a former HSBC employee for 30 years worked for both a branch and the head office of the bank. She left a decade ago and says the sales culture which existed then was so bad she decided to move from her branch job to avoid the sales-orientated culture.
She said: “I think the financial expertise of the branch employees is not as good as it used to be - the emphasis is on selling rather than on financial expertise, they just have to sell and have targets to meet.”
This was the second Commission hearing and was chaired by Conservative MP for Haltemprice and Howden David Davis and included Treasury select committee chariman John McFall and LibDem Shadow Chancellor Vince Cable.
Commission panel member former Schroders group managing director Philip Auger wanted to know if Kirk had been pushed into sales and wanted to know about the branch staff’s incentives to sell financial products.
Kirk said: “It became more that you had to sell, and that’s not what I wanted to do so I did a course and moved into the head office as I didn’t want to sell.
“We were incentivised - we had targets to meet and if we met them we got points and prizes. The more you sold, the more prizes you got - we got Hoovers, cameras things like that.”
Capital Economics chief economist Roger Bootle asked Kirk if her bank had ever recognised it was wrong in pushing sales. She said no.
She said: “You had to sell, whether it was for the customer or not. You’d like to think that if you knew the customer you could sell them the right product but some people didn’t do that because they were trying to reach a target and they sold whatever they could.”
A HSBC spokesman says: “HSBC is well known for its quality level of service and its commitment to treat customers fairly. The sales initiative that Mrs Kirk refers to was phased out by Midland Bank in the late 1980’s.”