Since the Wells Fargo fraudulent account scandal erupted in September 2016, bank workers and consumer advocates have called for new policies that address aggressive sales goals and incentive payment for front-line bank workers to avoid similar scandals and unethical behavior. At that time, we spoke to several dozen front-line bank workers to learn about the dangers of these practices to their customers and themselves, and we argued that to effectively curtail predatory practices workers’ experiences and inputs needed to be taken seriously. Instead, the chief federal body charged with overseeing this industry and protecting customers has dramatically limited its oversight responsibilities and congressional leaders have worked to dismantle legislation designed to prevent another bank-led financial crisis like that of 2008.
In this context, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Committee for Better Banks (CBB) conducted a survey and focus groups reaching 400 frontline workers employed by some of the largest national banks in the country, including Wells Fargo, US Bank, and Bank of America, between late 2017 and early 2018 to see how they were experiencing changes in sales culture their employers were promising to customers. Their responses indicate that there remain areas of concern about how goals are designed, enforced, and communicated and that we continue to need bank workers’ informed input before we decide to limit oversight of this critical industry.