COUNTER staff in branches of Lloyds TSB are under pressure to promote products to customers for just 60p a time while their high-rolling colleagues in the City await news of potential multi-million pound bonuses.
Cashiers at the high street lender earn commission by referring clients to sales staff, who talk them through the options for mortgages, savings accounts and other products. But the bank has not only cut the commission from £2 as part of a clampdown on costs, it has increased the target for each cashier from 72 referrals every three months to 77.
While investment bankers collect hundreds of thousands of pounds each year in salary and bonuses, front-line branch staff are more modestly paid, with starting salaries typically around £14,000 a year.
One Lloyds insider said: “It’s always the people on the ground who suffer. You could earn more working in Asda. This is driving a wedge between cashiers and sales staff in branches.”
However, the frustration over referral payments comes at a time of increasing pressure on the bank to introduce tighter pay restraint at the top.
Only last week it emerged that the top 1,000 earners at Lloyds – including chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio – face a pay freeze following a loss of £3.9 billion in the first nine months of the year.
The taxpayer-backed bank is also facing calls to reduce or even axe bonuses altogether in light of the loss, which was worsened by the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.
Sources say that this year’s bonuses could be reduced by 40 to 50 per cent. The bank is already clawing back part of the £1.4 million bonus to former chief executive Eric Daniels as the mis-selling scandal occurred during his tenure. Daniels was succeeded in March by Horta-Osorio who is expected to return to his job on 9 January after taking several weeks off suffering from exhaustion.
A spokeswoman for Lloyds TSB confirmed that changes to the referral system for branch staff had taken place but declined to give details on specific targets.
The spokeswoman added: “The scheme is now more balanced between sales and service than it was previously. In order to achieve this balance, we have redistributed incentive funds between these elements but the total amount payable is the same.”
Lloyds is selling 632 branches to the Co-operative Group as part of the “Project Verde” disposals required by the European Union’s competition watchdog as the price for the bank receiving state aid during the banking crisis.