Bank workers say pressure on them to sell products to the public remains the same or higher than it was a year ago despite promised changes by their employers.

A survey by First Union of 600 bank worker members found 87 per cent of respondents felt pressure to sell financial products and 92 per cent felt the same or more pressure to sell financial products than they did a year ago.

The survey closed on June 1, nearly a year after the union began a campaign calling for the big four banks to focus on service before sales, and cut debt product targets.

That move was made in the wake of a report carried out in Australia called the Sedgwick report, which made 21 recommendations urging banks to change their focus from sales to service by 2020.


Australia's major banks agreed to adopt the changes and New Zealand's major banks - ANZ, ASB, BNZ and Westpac also said they would review the recommendations and look at making changes.

But Stephen Parry, national organiser of the finance arm of First Union, said while some banks had begun to make changes the efforts had been half-hearted and ultimately not effective.

"This is reflected by the fact that 92 per cent of survey respondents report feeling the same or more pressure to sell financial products than they did a year ago."

The union says the sale pressures raises concerns about whether the public are being sold products, they don't want, need or can't afford.

"That is a huge concern for us. The workers report feeling ethically compromised."

Parry said the bank workers it represented were not high rolling big earners but ordinary people trying to make ends meet.

"They want to do well by the customer. They don't like being put in an ethical bind."

But the pressure meant workers were under considerable stress because if they didn't meet sales targets their jobs were on the line.


Parry said it wanted to see a full inquiry into the banks and an end to sales targets.

"This issue needs to be fully examined. It's not acceptable that we should be banging on about this for years and no action is taken."

But banks say they have made changes.

An ANZ spokesman said in recent years it had made changes to its incentive scheme for frontline staff and in 2017 introduced a "balanced scorecard" of targets, which included customer service, process compliance and people measures as well as sales.

"These significant changes are in line with the recommendations of the Sedgwick Review in Australia.

"For most frontline staff, sales results only make up 25 per cent of their assessment and staff can qualify for incentive payments even if they don't meet those sales targets."

He said the bank assessed the performance of its frontline staff based on a range of skills for their role, not whether they met sales targets or not.


"Like many businesses we always try to provide our customers with the services and products that meet their needs – it's not in their or our long-term interests for staff to feel undue pressure to meet sales targets."

"We're working hard to embed a culture that puts customer relationships and loyalty ahead of short-term sales."

But it took time for cultural changes to come through, he said.

A Westpac spokeswoman said it was adopting the recommendations of the Sedgwick report and had moved to ensure the balance of incentives for its frontline employees were focused on meeting customer needs rather than selling products.

"We are ahead of the timeline to have these recommendations implemented across our network by 2020.

"We have a very high level of commitment to ensuring we take action on any gaps we identify. We'd encourage any staff who feel they are under pressure to sell to raise the issue with their manager."


BNZ's chief customer officer Paul Carter said the bank was implementing the recommendations from the Sedgwick Report and that these would be in place by October.

"At BNZ we listen to all our people and I'll be discussing the results of the First Union survey with my team. While the survey results represent just 4 per cent of BNZ staff, we'll ensure we have a good understanding of the underlying issues that sit behind the survey result," Carter said.

ASB bank was not included in the survey because the union does not have enough members there for it to be statistically significant, the union said.