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Ken Tumin founded the Bank Deals Blog in 2005 and has been passionately covering the best deposit deals ever since. He is frequently referenced by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications as a top expert, but he is first and foremost a fellow deal seeker and member of the wonderful community of savers that frequents DepositAccounts.

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High Pressure from Bankers Trying to Sell Products


Every now and then when I visit a bank branch, bankers try to sell me on products like credit cards and investment services. The last example of this was when I went to Bank of America to close my checking account. The banker tried to convince me to sign up for their credit card. Another example was when I went to PNC to close a matured CD. The PNC banker referred me to their investment services division. As I explained last year, you should be very careful about CD alternatives being pushed by bankers.

Why are bankers so pushy? It’s not only the commissions that they receive from selling products, but it can also be pressure from their management. That’s what the LA Times revealed in its investigation. On Sunday the LA Times published the article, Wells Fargo's pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost. Thanks to DA member me1004 for posting on this in the forum. The article gives many examples of some of the alleged abuses by Wells Fargo bankers. The following excerpt provides some examples:

To meet quotas, employees have opened unneeded accounts for customers, ordered credit cards without customers' permission and forged client signatures on paperwork. Some employees begged family members to open ghost accounts.

This shows why you have to be careful when you talk with bankers. Not only do you have to be careful not to be pushed into products that are bad deals, but you have to be careful that you’re not signed up for products without your permission.

As the article shows, bankers can be under high pressure to sell products that may not be in your best interest. In fact, some of these products like investment products, could cost you a lot of money. I suppose the article could make you more sympathetic for your banker. If he or she is very nice and has gone the extra mile to help you in the past, you might want to give in to their offers. I know someone who did this with a SunTrust Investment Services advisor. That’s one more reason to avoid branches and to bank online.

What products has your banker tried to sell to you? How much pressure do you think they get from their management to sell? Have you ever given into their offers? Or have you been signed up without your permission?

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Anonymous   |     |   Comment #1
Your right about the bankers trying to sell products.  My 'brick and morter' branch bankers send me unsoliticited email, home phone calls and even tell me (unofficially) I need to update signature cards that are only 5 years old.  They got my email address from my online-banking profile.  Seems something isn't quite right hear.  I only respond to official bank notices, not personal email or notes.
OldGuy   |     |   Comment #2
I have a standard response for branch personnel (who are usually less than half my age) who try to "sell" me securities or other non-deposit products or services: "You know, back in the day, you would have been sent to the SLAMMER for asking me that!  Now, let's get back to FDIC-insured CDs . . ."
I hate Bank of America
I hate Bank of America   |     |   Comment #3
When I went to Bank of America to close a checking account, the teller signed me up for their credit card without my permission.  When I confronted their lying bank manager, he said "it was an accident".
RickNP   |     |   Comment #4
After nearly 30 years in the banking industry, my significant other has chosen to spend her last few working years as a sales clerk in a retail store.  Her last banking job was with a regional firm bought out by Wells Fargo. After six months, we decided it wasn't worth the heartache.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #6
Good luck to your "significant other".  Retail is probably worse with cross-selling.
RickNP   |     |   Comment #11
#6: Jobs like these don't hold much leverage over sales clerks to force or encourage cross-selling.
Gaelicwench   |     |   Comment #26
As a former bank teller in a large bank, I was expected to cross-sell their products. Once I reached a certain number, I received a "bonus." It rarely happened because I worked in a small town branch, seldom seeing new faces. Those that came on a regular basis we knew on a first name basis. I felt like such a scam artist because one of the selling points we had to use on new customers was that the checking accounts were "interest-bearing" and could be used as linked savings account for their primary checking. The so-called interest amount? A measly 0.1%......I loved working in a bank; I despised being pressured to sell something based on lies.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #5
This isn't exactly new.  I worked as a teller at Baybank back in the early 90's and we were told in no uncertain terms to sell products to the customers or we would get fired.  It was always awkward and I refused to do it, but I was good friends with one of the desk clerks who would toss enough sales my way to keep me employed.  Baybank has long since been merged (3 times! ) and it's former branches where I used to work are now Bank of America branches but nothing has changed.  Still the same high pressure sales environment as it was years ago.
larkin   |     |   Comment #7
I had the opposite experience at Chase on Friday.  I had a CD mature (5 year 5%) which I went to redeem and also closed my checking account.  The bank rep thanked me for my business, told me that they would welcome me back anytime, handed me my funds and sent me on my way.  I was a little surprised thinking she would at least offer me one of those savings bonuses I've read about to retain my deposit
stormdog123   |     |   Comment #8
Chase is the worst at this. While I was waiting to make a withdrawal, a "platform" employee came over and offered to "help" me with the withdrawal. It was nothing but an excuse to get me over to her desk, look at my accounts and try to sell me something.  It was extremely off putting. I ended up just walking away from her and getting back on line. Since then, other platform employees have asked to "help" me, I always refuse.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #12
What's a "platform" employee?
stormdog123   |     |   Comment #14
The people who sit behind a desk. I guess this is a New Jersey term for those people.
Gaelicwench   |     |   Comment #27
Those on the platform side do sit at their desks; they're the ones you see if you want to open any type of account. From my own experience as a bank teller, they were under pressure just as much as the next teller. I remember one or two from the platform side coming over to talk to us when it was quiet. They'd be sharing their experiences with us regarding the pressure to sell more to customers beyond what we had already sold them on.....thankfully, we, the tellers, didn't feel any need to become nasty to one another. We all sympathized with each because we were all under the gun to meet expectations by those from the very top. Even the manager was in the same boat with us. One big happy family....
lk86   |     |   Comment #32
It is actually. I work at a bank in PA, and we use the same term here by calling them platform.
mrvirgo   |     |   Comment #9
I had a 5 year CD mature on December 5, 2013 with Chase. The banker helped me close the CD and my Chase checking account. I asked to speak with an investment counselor who proceeded to spend a half hour discussing what was possible. In the end I thanked her and went on my way. There was no pressue from anyone to reinvest with Chase. Frankly, I was plesantly surprised at their courtesy and professionalism..
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #10
When I walk in a branch I always dress drably and nobody has ever offered me anything. It works for me, keep low profile and you can walk without anyone rushing to help you.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #13
Not, necessarily,  even dressed pretty shabby and wanting to cash out a mature CD with major money involved, they will try to stall you until you speak to their investment advisors.  It's your money they want, not your clothes. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #24
The CDs are one time event, I can handle it, but really try to keep subdued and low profile, nobody will try to sell you anything.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #25
It has nothing to do with how you're dressed. You realize you're in a bank where the teller is viewing your account(s)? If you're 'worth' being offered something they will or surreptitiously notify another staff employee to. 
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #15
I was in banking for 21 years and I can tell you from personal experience that the pushiness of bankers is a direct result of pressure from management.  And anyone who's ever worked in banking knows that complete incompetence always ends up in management.  What was most maddening was that the majority of the bankers didn't even have a clue what they were trying to sell.  Virtually no one understood the client's financial condition or situation, it was just sell, sell, sell. Fed up with the culture and management I quit and never looked back.  I agree with this article.  Stay out of the branches, do your own research online, and buy only the products you need for free from online banks and low cost index mutual fund companies like Vanguard and Fidelity.
pjaskate   |     |   Comment #16
I've been with Navy Federal Credit Union for over thirty years and I have been very satisfied with their services and my accounts. I'm usually fully invested in long term CD's. Recently, out of the blue, a financial advisor from NFCU called my cell phone and requested I make an appointment to discuss my 'financial situation'. I told him I was fully invested in CD's and that I wouldn't want to break any of my CD's because of the early withdrawal penalty. He said they 'could work around the penalties'. What? I never heard of such a thing. Needless to say, I told him I wasn't interested. In 30 years, I never received a call from NFCU to discuss my 'financial situation'!
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #17
Since I quit conducting business with any of the too big to fail (TBTF) banks no employee at any branch has attempted to sell me on any additional products. My primary checking account is at a small locally-owned bank with three branches in town. Once in a while I will accompany my neighbor for shopping and she has to stop at a Wells Fargo drive-up facility to make a deposit. The employees even try to sell her loans of different types, home equity lines of credit or another credit card while we are sitting in the car. This is like being circled by sharks just being in the vicinity of the Wells Fargo branch. Don't need them and don't want them.
#15   |     |   Comment #18
We all need to make a living. I don't blame them for trying to sell products. They have children to feed just like everyone else.
Hello   |     |   Comment #19
Why don't you people cut them some slack?  Everyone needs to make a living and has children to feed. If you don't want the product......then don't buy it. If it offends you.......maybe you should think about the fact that almost all of us earn our income from sales in one way or another.
Shorebreak   |     |   Comment #20
“There is a big difference though between a bank and a supermarket. You don’t entrust a supermarket with your hard-earned money or life savings; and if you are enticed by a supermarket promotion to buy something you don’t need, the loss is unlikely to be huge but this may not be case for investment or insurance products. You could lose your shirt. Therefore bank customers require protection not only on the safety of their deposits, but also in the way that they are treated as consumers and as investors. Banks must treat customers fairly by looking after their interests and not treating them just as target of sales.”
Anon   |     |   Comment #21
Oh, I'll cut them some slack for trying to sell products they know little about, when they know less about my personal financial situation, but when they lie, cheat, and steal (as highlighted in the article we are commenting on), under the guise, of ... "just following orders", then both they and those issuing the orders need to be held accountable.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #22
anonymous 18 and 19, relax...i understand like the rest of the readers here that everyone needs to make a living.  it's just very interesting to see the backend of stuff.  i don't blame the employees for trying make a's just a very twisted world we live in.  One one hand, wall street wants earnings and profits....and on the other hand, there's a limited source of new accounts.

actually, i was one of those people who agreed to let a friend who worked at wachovia open multiple way2save accounts because she needed to meet a quota.  i closed the acccounts when the terms changed and whatnot, but I do sympathize....The largest shocker to me was the lines of credit and going to the employees' address.

my only hope for this article is that it gains some sympathy/pity for the employees.  ( i don't think i'm venturing into WF anytime soon though.  I feel bad when i see cubicles in what used to be's sorta awkward all around)  that and maybe improvement all around (less(?) stress on employees, and maybe better service to customers...or maybe products that people consider more favorably)

another tradeoff of having convenience by having mobile banking/ATM/online banking is less in-person interaction.  less person interaction DOES mean the employees has less of a chance to sell a compared to a person opening a product online or even over the phone....where the "employee" might be at a call center overseas for all we know.

Now that I think about it, this article makes me appreciate the banks that allow a person to close an account via secure message instead of coming into the branch.  I understand the need, but this article makes me a little more intimidated by bankers in general
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #23
I'm glad there's finally a DA thread on this. Ever since my CDs were close to maturing I do not go to the branch. Months before, during and after the CDs matured I was swarmed whenever I went in. Hey buy annuities, mutual funds, financial management services, etc! I actually took the time to study these products and by the time you pay commissions, fees, expenses, loads, annual fees and what have you, you're back to earning close to CD rates, unless every year the stock market hits new records, and how likely or safe is that. I think banks should be banks, stockbrokers should be brokers, and insurance agents should be agents. Too many potential conflicts of interests. My bank is actually very good at providing basic banking services, but they're probably scaring away a lot of deposits with all the mumbo jumbo they're trying to pitch.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #28
My 93 year old grandmother went in to her local branch a few years ago to close a sizable CD that had matured.  This was a large nationwide bank.  They basically kept her hostage for over 40 minutes, "looking up" her signature card, bringing "financial advisors" over to where she was seated with the rep, etc.  Finally, they ushered her into a private office to meet with one "advisor" although she insisted that she just wanted a check and needed to leave the branch already.  She said that she felt "ganged-up on." The "advisor" and her assistant asked her what she was going to do with the money (they were the third or fourth persons in the bank to do so). My grandmother said that she looked at her and said matter-of-factly, "I'm using it to to bail my granddaughter out of jail and then fund her breast implants."  (not true, or course).  Their jaws dropped (she said) and she got her check very promtply after that.
Anonymous   |     |   Comment #29
2 Chase advisors in my area were arrested for fleecing some seasoned citizens out of their savings and were arrested. to I remembered when Chase took over WaMU they allowed you to keep the CD's and at the rate they were opened.  When the CD's came due I asked if I could set up the CD to close on the maturity date and send the proceeds to my checking account.  They said I had to come in person to close on the due date or 5 days after or it would renew.  They ALWAYS when I had to see a floor person tried to get me to open a home equity line of credit which I refused.   The WaMU CD was the last with Chase.  I have a checking account with them.  I use the ATM to deposit checks and cash (Also take out  cash) and Have only been in a branch 1 time in 3 years to get a cashiers check.  Oh and they gave me that with no fee.  All my CD's are with on-line banks or CD's.  Oh and one of my wife's cousins son works as a Chase floor person.
AbeKuyper   |     |   Comment #30
I haven't had a banker open a ghost account for me without permission, but I have had a very difficult time getting an account closed (for perhaps the same reason). It took me 3 separate visits to a Regions branch to get a checking account to go away, and I had to fight for reimbursement on a minimum balance penalty incurred as a result of not knowing the account was open.
scubabelle   |     |   Comment #31
Unbeknownst to me, a Wells Fargo employee caused a debit card associated with my home equity line of credit to be issued. The equity line had been in place for a couple of years (it wasn't new) and I had never had any interaction with this employee. The only reason I found out is that I received a notice in the mail saying the card had not been activated. I freaked out. I called, determined who had ordered the card and made a complaint to the manager. I was told it was a "mistake". Yeah - right. Wells Fargo deserves to be in hot water. Sadly they're probably not alone. Surely most big banks share this type of unethical culture.

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