Tuesday 16 July 2019

Permanent TSB brings in 'bonus' to turn staff into 'sales soldiers'

Permanent TSB is 75pc owned by the State. Stock picture
Permanent TSB is 75pc owned by the State. Stock picture
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

A bank that is majority owned by the State has told its staff it wants them to become "sales soldiers".

Permanent TSB is also changing its bonus system to incentivise them to get more customers to take out mortgages and loans.

Branch managers are to become "territory sales managers", with the changes taking place from September.

In documents marked 'private and confidential' seen by the Irish Independent, the bank admits its branch footfall is down, its mortgage market share is stagnant, and its customer base "remains challenging".

The bank denies the changes under its Network 2020 plan will create a bonus culture, something that was a factor that led to the bank being bailed out by the State just six years ago.

A sanitised version of the Network 2020 plan was released to the media in May.

But this newspaper has seen extensive documentation outlining in detail what the new strategy involves.

Permanent TSB is 75pc owned by the State.

Bank documents refer to the introduction at the start of next year of a "performance-based remuneration, based on your individual contribution".

The focus for branch staff is on "creating a universal sales soldier ethos". The document on the future of the 77 branches also refers to "driving a customer-centric sales culture".

This is in contrast to the current system, where each branch gets a bonus based on its performance which is then shared among staff.

The bank is offering a voluntary redundancy package for those who wish to leave, subject to management approval, the documents state.

The bank's 77 branch managers are to be replaced with a new position called 'territory sales manager'. These people will operate geographical areas outside the towns that each branch is located.

Below them will be 55 positions for field-based customer consultants.

A spokesman for the bank denied it was reverting to a bonus culture. "The new remuneration scheme will be subject to lots of checks and limits, so not 'bonus' in the traditional sense of the word," he said.

He added that the objective of Network 2020 was to reposition the branches as platforms for staff to go out into the regions rather than as places frequented by customers.

"The banking world is changing and while we envisage branches retaining a key role in our distribution network, they have to fit into a wider, more dynamic system which helps us to engage with customers on their terms, not ours."

Legacy

The changes comes as Permanent TSB has begun writing to customers to tell them that it is standardising its fee structure across a range of older, legacy accounts.

Costs for everyday banking for thousands of customers are to increase by more than 460pc due to the new charging regime on what it describes as "legacy" accounts.

Some customers will see quarterly charges going from €3.18 a quarter to €18, a rise of 466pc.

A new standard quarterly fee of €18 is being introduced across these legacy accounts.

Many existing customers with legacy accounts are currently paying legacy fees of €3.81.

Accounts subject to the new €18 quarterly will not incur charges for day-to-day transaction use.

Irish Independent

Also in Business