Barclays scraps sales-based bonuses for staff


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The Independent Online

Scandal-hit Barclays has announced it is scrapping commission-based sales targets for frontline staff and will pay bonuses purely on customer satisfaction.

From December 1, all 18,000 branch and call centre staff will have no commission or incentives based on products sold and bonuses will be based wholly on customers' views about the level of service they receive.

Chief executive Antony Jenkins has said the move is part of Barclays' journey towards regaining customers' trust.

The announcement comes after the City watchdog recently said it would look to introduce new rules if the financial sector does not address the use of incentive schemes, which it said were driving staff to mis-sell products in order to receive a bonus.

The industry has already put £10 billion aside to pay back customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI), in what has become the biggest consumer mis-selling scandal regulators have ever seen.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has been investigating taxpayer-backed Lloyds Banking Group over huge sales bonuses to frontline staff.

The FSA recently reviewed 22 firms' financial incentive schemes and found that Lloyds' failings were "so serious" that it was referred for further investigation which could ultimately see it face a penalty.

FSA managing director Martin Wheatley, who will become chief of the Financial Conduct Authority when it takes control of financial regulation next year, has said that what the watchdog had found was "not pretty" and most of the incentive schemes it saw were likely to drive people to mis-sell to meet targets.

The banking industry has also been rocked by a Libor-fixing scandal in recent months and Barclays paid £290 million in June to settle claims that it used underhand tactics to try to rig financial markets.

Mr Jenkins said: "The key to Barclays long-term success is the level of service we provide, not how many products we sell. We want customers to choose Barclays because of the great service they receive from us.

"That is why at Barclays we are determined to ensure that incentives for our frontline staff are based purely on service, and we will now end commission-based incentives as we continue our journey to rebuild trust and put the customer right at the heart of our business."

The new chairman of Barclays gave a flavour of what was to come when he told MPs last month that Britain's banks must prioritise reputation over profits to tackle cultural problems within the industry.

Sir David Walker told the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards joint committee, set up in the wake of the Libor-fixing scandal: "Reputation should be the driver and profit should come second in any choice.

"I would start by changing the remuneration structure and inappropriate incentivisation."

Barclays said it has already been changing its incentives programme in recent years by increasingly focusing staff bonuses on customer service.

It said that over the last two years it has seen "strong growth" in customer numbers, with the number of savings accounts rising from 14.4 million to 15.1 million, the number of mortgages from 916,000 to 930,000 and the volume of current accounts from 11.6 million to 11.9 million.

Last week, the Co-operative Bank also announced it was launching a bonus scheme to reward branch staff solely on customer service.

It said it was scrapping sales targets for customer-facing staff altogether and instead staff will have to demonstrate excellent customer service to receive a quarterly reward.

Barclays' announcement was welcomed by consumer group Which?, which has been running a Big Change campaign to change banking culture.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "Consumers have been let down by the banks for too long. We need to see Big Change in banking now and a return to banks for customers, not bankers."