Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Big Banks Defend Their Records to MPs amid Allegations of Questionable Practices

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Big Banks Defend Their Records to MPs amid Allegations of Questionable Practices

Article excerpt

Big banks defend sales practices before MPs

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OTTAWA - Canada's big banks defended their business practices Monday before a parliamentary committee that's been exploring allegations of questionable sales methods at major financial institutions.

The committee launched the hearings following media reports citing unnamed employees at the five largest banks who alleged they were pressured to sell unnecessary products and services in order to boost profits and meet difficult-to-reach sales objectives.

Representatives of the country's largest banks strongly denied that such accusations were part of their cultures. Although most acknowledged that occasional cases of inappropriate behaviour are possible since the financial institutions are massive operations with many client interactions.

The bank officials represented CIBC, Scotiabank, TD, BMO, RBC and the National Bank of Canada, which was not named in the series of reports by the CBC.

They all insisted the needs of their customers always come first, which they argued was a crucial ingredient for a successful banking business.

The bankers also say they enforce codes of conduct, invite staff and client feedback through confidential channels, regularly offer fresh training for employees and are determined to address any inappropriate sales behaviour. They all said the allegations that appeared in the reports are unacceptable and that all issues with client interactions are taken seriously.

Andrew Pilkington, TD's executive vice-president of branch banking, said after the allegations emerged he travelled to his company's locations across Canada to find out if employees felt intense pressure to sell.

"Our employees -- the vast majority -- feel that's just not the case," Pilkington said.

"We're not saying we're perfect, in fact, this is a good time for us to stop, pause, reflect (and) see what else we can do to actually strengthen our controls, so that we can absolutely mitigate the risk that you're talking about."

Andrew Auerbach, an executive vice-president for BMO, told the committee his bank would never suggest selling products that are not appropriate for the customer. …

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