#CBC: “Bank executives defend oversight of sales practices in testimony to MPs – Politics”

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Executives from Canada’s big banks defended the way they do business Monday, saying they take steps to make sure employees don’t engage in questionable sales practices.

Testifying before the House of Commons finance committee, they said codes of conduct govern the actions of their employees and violations are dealt with seriously.

The hearings come in the wake of a series of stories by CBC’s Go Public, in which bank employees described questionable practices by some of Canada’s biggest banks. Allegations included pressure on employees to meet ever increasing sales targets, signing clients up for services without informing them and forging signatures and initials.

Andrew Pilkington, executive vice-president branch banking for TD Bank Financial Group, told MPs on the committee that TD does not encourage employees to falsify signatures and when it does happen they investigate and terminate the employee.

Pilkington was joined by executives from CIBC and Scotiabank at the beginning of the hearing, and executives from BMO, Royal Bank and National Bank appeared later.

Monday’s testimony follows on two committee hearings last week.

Last Monday, the committee heard from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada, which said that it decided after last year’s scandal involving fake accounts at Wells Fargo Bank in the U.S. to take a closer look at the impact of sales targets on the practices of Canada’s banks. The investigation into sales practices in Canada continues, the watchdog told MPs.

The same day, representatives of the Canadian Bankers Association told the committee that employees of Canada’s big banks are subject to strict codes of ethics and face sanctions for violating them.

Last Wednesday, former bank employees told a different story. Retired Scotiabank employee Sally Watson gave the committee a blunt account of what life is like on the other side of the teller’s counter. She said Canadians are being sold banking products they don’t need, being signed up for credit cards they don’t know they have and encouraged to borrow more money than they can handle in order for employees to meet sales targets.

Larry Elford, another former bank and investment firm employee, told MPs the pressure on staff to sell extends to investments like mutual funds. He said many bank customers mistakenly think they are dealing with a licensed financial adviser when they are actually dealing with someone whose job is to sell them the bank’s products — even if they aren’t the best investment for the client.

Elford and Stan Buell, president of the Small Investor Protection Association, called for the government to put in place a new, independent body to protect consumers, arguing that existing regulators and watchdogs were too cozy with the banks.

Thousands of bank employees have contacted CBC Go Public to describe stress-inducing pressure to increase sales.

Elizabeth Thompson can be reached at elizabeth.thompson@cbc.ca

Note: “Previously Published on: 12 June 2017 | 7:23 pm, as ‘Bank executives defend oversight of sales practices in testimony to MPs – Politics’ on CBC RADIO-CANADA. Here is a source link for the Article’s Image(s) and Content”.

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