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Dodgy sales tactics by banks now less likely, review says


Bank customers are less likely to fall prey to dodgy sales tactics but the pressure must stay on to stop the sector backsliding, a review has found.

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Rewards and incentives handed to bank staff and brokers for sales came under intense scrutiny at the Hayne royal commission, prompting an overhaul.

Former Australian Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick on Thursday said links between staff sales and rewards had become a rarity and were indirect where they still existed.

This meant retail customers were significantly less likely to be sold products not in their best interests, Sedgwick’s industry commissioned review found.

But it also stressed the importance of continued vigilance to ensure fading memories and changing conditions didn’t wind back progress.

The report tracking the progress of changes since 2017 also said retail staff bonuses were no longer based solely or directly on sales.

However, frontline staff said leaderboards – comparing staff performance on targets – were still used.

This was despite a previous recommendation to phase them out and reassurances by all but one bank that formal leaderboards had been scrapped.

Australian Banking Association chief executive Anna Bligh said more work was needed but the industry had come a long way in earning back community trust.

“Last year was an opportunity for Australian banks to demonstrate … they had heard the message,” she told a federal parliamentary committee on Thursday.

The economics committee is looking at how small banks – including Bank of Queensland, Beyond Bank and ING Australia – have responded to the royal commission and COVID-19.

Newer banking players Volt and Judo Bank will also give evidence about their operations for the first time.

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