Have things really changed in the Branch Network? Is the culture of the Bank any different to what it was 5 years ago?

It would be churlish of us not to accept that things have moved on for the better in some ways but there is still a group of Local Directors who seem stuck in the past.

In a foreword to the Banking Standards Board’s 2017/18 annual review, Dame Collette Bowman, Chair of the BSA, said that one of the main messages coming from their work with some of the major employers in the finance industry was: “a reluctance to speak out on issues certainly reflects, in part, fear of the consequences of doing so; but it also, and to a roughly equal extent, reflects the perception that nothing is likely to happen even if something is said. Fear and futility in other words, are equally influential in constraining challenge. Firms need to think about not only how they encourage feedback, but also how they respond to it when it is received.”

Last week the Union received a copy of an email that was sent to the Bank’s whistleblowing helpline. What the Bank does with that email remains to be seen, although we would expect a full investigation to be carried out. What it paints is a different picture to the one portrayed by Robin Bulloch, Managing Director, and the Bank centrally. Evidence from members across the country tells us that this is not an isolated issue. Equally, the fact that the line manager felt unable to make his or her views known to the Local Director is also telling. If the culture had really changed then the line manager would not have felt “frightened to raise my concerns…”.

In the email the line manager says:

‘I am sending this email anonymously as I am frightened to raise my concerns publicly and I do not know who to turn to without suffering the consequences and backlash from my local director.

I am a manager .. and I have worked for the company for a lot of years and had both good times and hard times but nothing compares to the daily misery and threat I face every day .. I am not alone in how I feel and I know that the majority of the managers in the group feel the same way in that nothing is ever good enough and everyone feels demotivated waiting for their next telling off from the local director.

Sales management at its worst. Despite not having any targets now and everything is supposedly to help customers “Diary Management” and “Diary Quality” is fiercely challenged. I am often faced with going through every appointment in the diary and having to justify why it is in the diary if there is no obvious “sale” to be made. I am made to feel sick to my stomach from the pressure to fill the diaries with “customer needs”. It is worse now than ever before when we had sales targets. Branch visits often leave everyone in the branch feeling completely demotivated and failures at their jobs. Mortgages and iPad usage are all that the Bank seems to care about and I am regularly challenged on the number of mortgage sign ups seen on my branch dashboard. I live in fear for the week where only product transfers will show on the dashboard or when the iPad pro usage is not 100%.

My one to ones leave me feeling that I am unable to be a manager and incompetent in my job with no support or encouragement given. Everything picked up is a list of negativity with the local director only wanting to point out what is wrong and never recognises the hard work or effort made by me or my colleagues and I can not remember the last time something was recognised as good. I know we all have areas to work on but constant criticism and no support is no motivation at all and makes me not want to come to work in the mornings and I find it a real struggle. I don’t know what is right to do or what is expected as I feel “what good looks like” constantly changes and depends on what mood the local director is in and also because I am not one of .. chosen few favourites.

I hope someone takes some action to come and speak to the managers in the group as things need to change and can not go on the way they are now”.

We’ve long suspected that whilst targets in the traditional sense had gone, they had simply been replaced with a more subtle form of targeting based on pressurising line management to justify every customer meeting with an expectation about what it would produce in terms of sales. If diaries are not producing business then line managers come under pressure; and they in turn feel pressurised to push their staff to make sure that meetings are delivering sales. There may be no sales targets linked to reward but that doesn’t stop the Bank using performance management ratings to drive behaviours and calling sales the meeting of customer needs convinces no one.  It’s a vicious circle which we have seen before.

One thing is certain and that is that Local Directors are going to be under considerable pressure themselves.

We will keep members informed on developments through regular Newsletters. In the meantime, members with any questions can contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1) or email us at 24hours@btuonline.co.uk.



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