March 7, 2019 / 1:04 AM / 2 months ago

Australia's Westpac cuts teller bonuses to protect customers

SYDNEY, March 7 (Reuters) - Australia’s Westpac Banking Corp said on Thursday it would scrap bonuses for thousands of branch tellers, a move to regain customer trust following accusations at a misconduct inquiry that incentives had led to wrongdoing.

Westpac is the first of Australia’s major banks to ban bonuses for bank tellers in the wake of scorching criticism from the Royal Commission inquiry over aggressive sales tactics at financial services firms.

From April 1, 2,300 Westpac bank tellers would have their salary lifted by A$500 ($351.65), while a bonus target of A$1,000 would be scrapped, the Sydney-based lender said in a statement. The bank operates the largest teller network in Australia.

“A simple fixed-pay-only model takes us a step further to reinforce the importance of putting the customer first and providing our 2,300 tellers with more clarity and fairness around how their work is remunerated,” George Frazis, Westpac group consumer bank chief executive, said.

Westpac tellers were currently eligible for the bonus depending on a number of factors, including the features of the products they sell, the location of their branches and customer satisfaction measures, the bank said.

The change would apply to tellers at Westpac and its three Australian subsidiaries - St. George, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA.

Other Westpac retail staff would continue to receive bonuses.

Executives from Westpac and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are scheduled to be grilled by a parliamentary committee on Friday about how they are responding to the Royal Commission’s recommendations. ($1 = 1.4219 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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