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Survey demonstrates sales pressure is rife in NZ banks

600-strong union survey demonstrates sales pressure is rife in New Zealand banks

A recent survey of over 600 union members working at ANZ, BNZ and Westpac demonstrates that sales culture is rife in the New Zealand banking sector.

87% of respondents reported feeling pressure to sell financial products; and 92% feel the same or more pressure to sell financial products now than they did a year ago (50% more; 42% the same).

FIRST Union National Organiser for the Finance, Stephen Parry, says that these results are no surprise: “FIRST Union has been raising the issue of sales targets and sales pressure with the Banks for years, but we’ve been knocking on a closed door. It is only in the wake of ongoing scandal in the Australian financial sector that the Banks and the regulators have started to take notice.”

“Frontline bank workers are under enormous pressure to sell financial products to consumers. If they do not meet their sales, they risk facing disciplinary action for what the banks call ‘poor performance’, and can ultimately lose their jobs. Stress arising from sales pressure is the most consistent complaint we as a Union receive from our members.

“Sales targets and sales pressure in the Banks is bad for the public as well as for workers. Consumers should feel confident when they approach a Bank that their interests will be put first. This is not possible where Bank workers are under pressure to sell as much product as possible.”

Parry says that the Union has tried for years to address the problems of sales targets and sales pressure through collective bargaining. While the release of the Sedgwick Report in Australia last year an independent investigation commissioned by the Australian Bankers Association to blunt calls for a Royal Commission saw some New Zealand Banks begin to engage on the issue of sales targets, their efforts have been half-hearted and ultimately not effective. This is reflected by the fact that 92% of survey respondents report feeling the same or more pressure to sell financial products than they did a year ago.

He says a transparent and thorough public enquiry is required to remedy the systematic misconduct from Australian banks operating in New Zealand.

“The Union’s experience dealing with the Banks about sales targets and sales pressure demonstrates that nothing will change without public pressure and the regulators getting involved. We welcome the Financial Services Conduct and Culture Review currently being undertaken by FMA, but also call for a full public enquiry to ensure that the voices of consumers and Bank workers are heard.”

Survey data

The Union surveyed 612 members from ANZ (179), BNZ (201), and Westpac (232) asking:

• Do you feel pressure to sell financial products?

• Do you feel more, less or the same pressure to sell financial products now than you did a year ago?

Overall, 87% of respondents reported feeling pressure to sell financial products; 92% feel the same or more pressure to sell financial products than they did a year ago (50% more; 42% the same).

The responses by Bank were as follows:

ANZYes – 82%

No – 18%

More – 45%

Same – 45%

Less – 10%

BNZYes – 93%

No – 7%

More – 64%

Same – 32%

Less – 4%

WestpacYes – 89%

No – 11%

More – 40%

Same – 50%

Less – 10%

NB the above stats all exclude responses of “N/A”, i.e. workers in non-customer facing roles (approx. 20% of survey sample).


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