Everyday we hear in the papers how the banks have made billions from selling products that their customers don't need or want. Its easy to forget that behind these figures are literally millions of lives which have been ruined.
As the Banking Standards Commission decides how to tackle the culture of aggressive sales practices by banks Move Your Money want to document the true cost of misselling.
Whether it's the bank workers forced to sell junk or face being fired, the families who have been pushed to the edge, or businesses which have gone under, we want to hear your stories.
A former bank worker, who has asked to remain anonymous, got in touch to explain why she’s never going back to the retail finance industry:
“I quit my job in the retail finance industry last year, and I am never going back. Here’s one of the reasons.
About a year after I joined the organization, it formed a relationship with another investment company, in order to 'offer a wider range of products to our customers’. I won’t mince my words: these products were crap. Everyone knew it. My bosses knew it, my customers knew it, I knew it. The returns offered were unimpressive, and the customer service provided by our partner organization was shocking.
The branch staffing structure changed, and I became a Customer Consultant. My job was to gain the trust of my customers, so they would buy what I recommended. I was trained in questioning techniques. I learned how to unsettle my customers in order to manipulate them. I was reminded that at least 30% of them ‘needed’ this hideous investment product, despite the growing list of unhappy and dissatisfied customers who had gone before. The targets grew and grew.
I must explain, I don’t have a problem with ‘selling’. When it is done well, it’s a pleasure for all parties. What offended me was that I had to work on my customers, get them to like me and trust me, and then twist their words into a need for the products I had to sell. I really, genuinely liked and even loved my customers, but it was my job to betray them.
A few months before I quit, a family I had become very close to came in to see me for advice about what to do with their savings of around £40k. I spent weeks working on them, eventually persuading them to invest the money. (I hated the product, but if I couldn’t find £50k a week to put into it I was in serious trouble). So, the £40k was invested and could not be withdrawn.
Shortly afterwards, one of the family was diagnosed with cancer, with little hope of recovery. He had been saving his money for later life, and I had manipulated him into putting it out of reach. I had ‘recommended’ a product I didn’t like, to someone I cared about, and quite possibly marred his last months with his family as a result.
This is just a tiny snapshot of what it was like working in retail finance, but I hope it illustrates how an aggressive sales culture can push good people to do awful things. We’re not greedy, we’re scared for our jobs.”
If you’ve been mis-sold a financial product by your bank, we want to hear about it. Let us know by emailing Jessica@moveyourmoney.org.uk