New Zealand and Australian bank ANZ has announced it will drop all sales components from frontline retail sales incentives in New Zealand from October this year.
It follows claims from some bank workers they had pressure on them to sell products, like loans, to people who could not service them.
There was some concern that sales targets might cause retail staff to sell products that don't meet customers' needs, ANZ's managing director retail and business banking Antonia Watson said.
"We trust our staff to do the right thing by our customers and we know they consider customers' genuine needs when they talk with them. Removing sales targets altogether will give our customers total confidence that we're focused on doing the right thing by them.
"The environment is clearly changing and the feedback we're getting and what we're seeing in Australia suggests this is the right approach, regardless of how direct or indirect our sales targets were or how minimal."
From the new financial year on October 1 2018, frontline retail staff would still be incentivised around good customer service and other aspects of banking such as product knowledge but there will be no sales component, she said.
"We have a culture in ANZ New Zealand where staff are focussed on the wellbeing of our customers. If our customers are satisfied and get ahead in their lives because of the products we've given them then it's in our long-term interests too.
"But most importantly, we want our customers to know they can depend on us to do the right thing for them and that this is the absolute focus of our employees."
FIRST Union applauded ANZ for being the first New Zealand bank to do away with sales targets.
"Union members at ANZ and the other major banks have for years, if not decades, been raising the issue of inappropriate sales pressure.
"This pressure is about much more than whether or not a worker receives a bonus payment ― it's about a day-to-day culture where sales come first and service comes second, and where workers risk disciplinary action if they do not meet their targets," FIRST Union national finance sector organiser Stephen Parry said.
Parry said the Union had recently concluded a round of collective bargaining negotiations with ANZ where the removal of sales targets and sales pressure was the main point of discussion.
"On top of today's announcement, we are also in the process of taking out an offer to members which includes a ban on performance management around sales, and a commitment from ANZ to move away from a sales-based culture to one based on ethical behaviour and customer service."
Now ANZ had taken the steps now it was up to other banks, he said.
"ANZ has now set the bar ― we hope that the other banks will now do the right thing and step up to the plate. Customers and regulators are demanding more ethical business practices from the banks, now is the time for the other banks to fall into line."
ASB chief executive Vittoria Shortt said it constantly reviewed remuneration incentives and structures across its business.
In July it removed sales targets for staff in its branch networks.
"Basically what we are doing is looking right across all of our business. It is a rolling program."
Whether changes were made depended on how much a team had on the go at that point in time, she said.
Asked if there would be a point where all front-line staff had sales incentives removed Shortt said she would not pre-empt the work it was doing.
"A lot of effort is going into understanding what changes need to be made. We are definitely aligned to the issues. We are making changes."
Kiwibank said it had also been reviewing performance targets for frontline staff.
"The incentives Kiwibank has offered are generally much more modest compared to the Australian owned banks," a spokeswoman said.
"The process though is only one part of the equation. At Kiwibank there is a strong culture for doing right by our customers, and we want to continue to strengthen this in a number of ways," she said.
A Westpac spokesman said:
"Westpac NZ has already made changes to the way frontline staff are incentivised and indicated further changes are in the pipeline."
"We will be talking to employees, union representatives and other stakeholders and will make announcements in due course, with any changes taking effect from 1 October 2018."