The year’s hardly begun and Lloyds Banking Group has announced that there will be a net reduction of 740 grade C+ roles in the Community Bank. Lloyds has trotted out the usual justifications but it’s clear that its combined branch network (Halifax, Lloyds and Bank of Scotland) is an endangered species which is teetering on the verge of extinction.

According to Lloyds, the Community Bank (Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland) will focus on supporting customers using digital first.

The ‘new’ Relationship Growth team, with 700+ staff, is being set up to “deepen relationship and meet more customer needs”. That’s a Lloyds euphemism for selling more products and increasing share of wallet. We’ve been here before. The relationship management approach to what is effectively sales, failed then and it will fail again.

If that’s the Bank’s big idea, then will the last person in each of the Lloyds, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branches switch off the lights please?

The details of the announcement are as follows:

  • The number of area director groups will reduce to 10 from 20. There will be 10 ‘new’ regional director groups: 5 Lloyds, 4 Halifax and 1 Bank of Scotland.
  • There will be no role reductions at Grade A and B. Branches will have Grade A and B ‘Customer Support roles’. Grade B members will be able to opt to do the Customer Support role at their current grade or apply for one of the new Grade C Relationship Manager roles. Grade B members can also apply for voluntary redundancy on the agreed terms. Members opting for a relationship management role need to understand that it will mean working shifts between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm on Saturday. Members will also be expected to work from home. We will cover this in more detail in a separate Newsletter.
  • Grades C, D, E and F members will bear the brunt of the role reductions. Members will be subject to the selection process for the roles that will remain in the Community Bank. Members will also be able to apply for roles in the Relationship Growth team or opt for voluntary redundancy.
  • Those opting for voluntary redundancy will leave on their heritage redundancy terms and not the inferior terms agreed by Accord and Unite last year.

The ‘New’ Relationship Growth Team

The ‘new’ Relationship Growth team raises lots of questions about how Relationship Managers will be performance managed going forward. How will performance be measured? If there are no targets, how will Lloyds differentiate between the performance of different Relationship Managers and decide who is and who is not performing satisfactorily? Will Relationship Managers be expected to cold call customers to drum up new business? Are the ‘Relationship Growth Coaches’ just glorified ‘Sales Managers’ with a different title? How will that role be measured?

In a previous Newsletter we said:

“the newly appointed Customer Channels, Managing Director, Peter Steel, was using old style sales language in his meetings with managers. On a call to branch managers he talked about “product sales”, “product holdings”, “product needs”, “savings sales”. Those on the call told us that it felt like the kind of presentation they would have had in the bad old days of high pressure and often inappropriate sales. We have no concern with a commercial organisation that we want to succeed trying hard to boost the sales of its products: our concern with the use of such language is that branch managers and frontline staff will now come under increasing pressure to increase products holdings using sales practices that had previously been disowned by the Group.”.

That’s our concern with this ‘new’ team. It will become, over time, an old-style salesforce and will be managed accordingly by line managers who themselves will be under pressure to hit demanding targets; sorry, customer needs!

We will be covering some of these issues in more detail in future Newsletters. In the meantime, members with any questions on this Newsletter should contact the Union’s Advice Team on 01234 262868 (choose Option 1).


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