IBOA: our members were under 'relentless pressure'

Reported by RTÉ, 25th April 2009

I see the IBOA have deftly invoked the “Cooper-Flynn”, aka the “I vas only obeyink orderz mein judge” aka the Shaggy “Wasn’t me” defence on behalf of their members. Cunning.

Now, forgive me for being a pedant, but as someone who has previously worked as a sales professional for several years, being constantly urged hardly constitutes “relentless pressure”.

Eh, excuse me Mr Broderick, but I suspect Mick and Biddy Public are more upset about the deterioration in their personal financial and perceived wealth positions rather than the devastation caused to the Irish banks by a cohort of their employees. However, if your members are upset because they, like Mick and Biddy Public now face the two very serious options of a) No job or b) Keep your job but at a reduced salary … then perhaps you have hit upon a shared upset.

Perhaps also, not accepting a job title with the word “advisor” in it when they were merely peddling a single range of prodcuts, might have been a good first step for the up and coming IBOA member.

Blue Horseshoe

No doubt the poor innocents were also under ‘relentless pressure’ to accept the bonuses for every sucker they hooked

It’s not the fault of bank workers but I have a feeling this is leading up to “…and that’s why we shouldn’t have to accept pay cuts or job cuts”.

I also find it odd that there was a distinct lack of speaking out about the problematic behavior banks were engaging in. I remember in the tech boom that ended in 2001 engineers spoke frequently about the crazy stuff that was going on. They didn’t have the power to do anything about it but the problem was well known. There seems to be no equivalent for the banking system.


IBOA may just be trying to cover their members asses - if NAMA took over the bulk of bank loans, would the banks need so many staff?

On the other hand, it may be a sign that middle-ranking bank staff are willing to spill the beans. So far we have only seen the lone crusaders like Tony Spollen and Eugene McErlean but they might soon be joined by others who know where the bodies are buried.

I think NAMA should show who’s boss to the banks’ staff and if they don’t dish the dirt on the senior managers’ relationships with developers, NAMA should push the bank staff aside.

Blue Horseshoe, I don’t think you’re being fair at all here. Broderick is mainly talking about those below middle-management, the likes of tellers and back office clerical staff. Most junior bank staff did not take up employment under the assumption that they were primarily sales people (only Halifax openly advertise as such). Front line bank staff essentially carry two functions now, the first being operational and the second being sales people. Carrying out the first role adequately be it as a teller, foreign exchange etc. is not sufficient to attain even an average performance rating without achieving good sales targets. This has created a pressure to achieve a high level of sales on top of your main function ,which already occupies most of your energy and concentration, just to keep your head above water. You’ll struggle to find a lower grade bank employee who isn’t unhappy or uncomfortable with this additional aspect to their role.


And why exactly has the IBOA waited until this point to complain publicly about it?

Before I go on, I’m not a fan of the IBOA and I don’t contribute a subscription, but they’ve been complaining about the direction of Irish banking for close to a year, perhaps longer but I haven’t paid much attention to them prior to that. I don’t know how or why they traded the old incremental pay rises for sales related performance reviews. Like I say, I’m not their biggest fan and I don’t think they’re a great union but that doesn’t make the statements any less true. Keep in mind your average non-management staff member earns around 22-25k and was getting a bonus of 1-1.5k during the good times. They weren’t raking it in.

I guess they were cheaply bought then.

These were the guys selling the dodgy mortgages at 8 times people’s incomes (including “bonuses” wink wink) and pretty much none of them spoke up about it. I’m not saying they’re responsible for all this since it’s the executives who set policy who should bear responsibility but they were obviously very happy to keep their head down and make whatever money they could.

I already made the point about EA employees here viewtopic.php?p=167402#p167402

Branch management handle the salary multiples and the more detailed aspects of mortgages. It’s the grunts below this level who bear the biggest brunt of sales targets as they’re the ones least able to achieve them and have plenty of operational resonsibilities aside from these targets. They’re the same people who earn the least and face most of the public anger (rational or not). I fully expect redundancies, pay reductions and increased pension payments as part of the new economic reality in which the banks played a major part. It’s easy to pontificate about what a group should have done but the IBOA is a weak union with low membership (at least until the end of last year) and many lower bank staff are only new to the industry, I’ve never even seen a bonus.

While I agree that the most junior of banks staffers who where IBOA members were little more than “worker bees” and tellers in the branches, or indeed fulfilling basic administrative roles, those that were “closing deals” with the clients for lending were not tellers and were not that much more senior than the tellers.

In my experience of the institutions I have dealt with, the tellers were not the ones sitting face to face with customers in the corner offices/partitioned off area and arranging the lending aggreemet paperwork (or suggesting what figures would be best to placed on them). There were specific staff within the branches fulfilling that function, usually referred to as “Advisors” or “Relationship Managers”. On occasion, tellers will enquire if you are interested in a specific product or service, and if you answered in the affirmative you would be referred to someone in the branch to “sign you up”. Yet these staff were not middle aged or more senior, they were still in the their twenties or early thirties.

The suggestion that relatively junior and lower middle grade staff in the branches and back offices are in some way disconnected from the overall self destruction of the banking system is, IMHO laughable. What percentage of lending, or % of the value of all lending over the last few years were signed up by relatively junior grade bank staff in the branch network, and then approved by relatively low to mid grade administrative staff? Compare that to the volume and value of the top end management OK’ing large loans to themselves and their buddies.

Certainly, the push to sell lending products came from the top. If someone decided to move into a client facing, sales position, particularly one where their remuneration would be based on performance, there will be pressure. Professional sales is a tough job and it is a role that provides for pretty regular feed back on your performance when the figures come in (for people who are used to just one or two performance reviews per year on multiple metrics, being subject to a quarterly, monthly or even weekly assessment with a very simple and singular metric by which both you and your assessor are measured can be rather daunting).

If individuals are under “relentless pressure”, then, as an adult, during a period of near full employment I would expect they would move rather than stay put and “only obey orders”, unless they were being well remunerated for their troubles.

Were any members of the IBOA placed under duress to stay in their roles?

Blue Horseshoe

Then now is the time to shop your bosses, Banker, if they are hiding the truth from NAMA. It looks now like NAMA will leave management of the smaller developers to the banks. That’s a receipe for disaster unless whistleblowers keep the banks a little bit honest. It’s not a good sign that the IBOA is threatening non-cooperation with NAMA before it even gets started.

But until we see bank staff blowing the whistle, they will get little sympathy even if they were not big winners when the party was in full swing.

and other private sector workers are never under any pressure from their bosses? :question: what a load of bollox

Wow, a whole year!!!

Would that be around the time commissions started dropping off the cliff?

I spoke to a mortgage adviser in the US who had refused to put her clients into Neg Am, had done her best to put her clients into mortgages that suited them. All of her clients worked out good, and when they heard bad stories on the news about mortgages they would ring her and she’d just assure them that they were fine.

Throughout all of this she was coming under actual relentless pressure to sell the kinds of mortgages that generated more fees for the bank. She knew these products would hurt the people buying them and refused. She was making good money for her employer while acting in the interests of her clients. She ultimately left. She took a job at our bank and I could tell from the way she dealt with us, she wasn’t bullshitting about her previous experience.

I would be very surprised if any bank staff in Ireland came under the kind of pressure this woman did, and I’d be very curious to know how many of them would have withstood it and acted in the best interests of the client.