Lloyds: where toxic bonus targets made staff mis-sell to themselves

Regulator levies record £28m fine for scheme that encouraged aggressive sales

The banking industry's reputation suffered another blow yesterday as City watchdogs fined Lloyds Banking Group a record £28m for operating a toxic culture that led one desperate salesman to mis-sell policies to himself, his wife and a colleague to avoid automatic demotion.

His fear was motivated by the fact that his salary would fall from £34,000 to £26,000 if he were demoted by one tier from his post as a middle-ranking adviser – a 23 per cent pay cut. He sold life assurance, critical illness and expenses on death cover to himself and his wife even though they couldn't afford the premiums. He also sold a critical illness policy to a colleague, which was subsequently cancelled.

The sales were pushed through in the final week of one of the bank's quarters. Demotion for staff who missed targets was automatic across the three banks during the period regulators investigated from the start of 2010 until the end of March 2012.

Sales staff were also encouraged to win regular "champagne" bonuses paid every quarter to top performers.

The Financial Conduct Authority found that neither Halifax, Lloyds TSB or Bank of Scotland – all owned by Lloyds Banking Group – kept an eye out for bad sales at the end of a quarter.

Watchdogs described the risks to consumers of being pushed to buy inappropriate insurance products or investments as "acute". It also said the banks "tolerated" poor sales practices and was sharply critical of the fact that even salesmen who were found to have badly advised consumers could still be paid juicy bonuses.

Shockingly, 229 Lloyds TSB advisers got a bonus when all of their sales were classified as "advice fails" in one month. This happened on more than one occasion to 30 of them.

The three Lloyds-owned banks only monitored a tiny proportion of the sales made to check that they were compliant and the pay policies were imposed despite repeated warnings from regulators to steer clear of pay policies that encouraged bad behaviour. Over the period under investigation the banks sold £2.25bn of investment products and took in £118m in protection insurance premiums. As a group, Lloyds was ramping up the pressure as it had told the City it wanted to double customer numbers.

The FSA lambasted a "collective failing of senior management" in its final decision notice.

The bank could consider clawing back bonuses as a result, although yesterday it would only say that "the Remuneration Committee will re-consider deferred awards if appropriate to do so before being released".

Tracy McDermott, the FCA's director of enforcement, said: "Customers have a right to expect better from our leading financial institutions and we expect firms to put customers first – but firms will never be able to do this if they incentivise their staff to do the opposite.

In a statement Lloyds said it accepted the findingsand added: "The Group launched its new strategy in 2011 to fully refocus the business on its customers."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?