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How incentives shape the future of bank contact centres’ culture

May 3, 2018

(London):  Financial service providers rely on incentives to motivate, increase productivity, and reward their employees.  According to Auriemma Consulting Group research, 83% of financial service providers use incentives for agents and 67% for team leaders.  However, the future of incentives may be in jeopardy.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released a report in October 2017 detailing its concerns on how incentives may influence the wrong behaviours, including the potential link between incentives and high-pressure sales or collections activities.  The report also called for adequate and effective controls for mitigating risk posed by incentives, such as ensuring that incentive pay-outs do not outstrip base salaries.  In March 2018, another FCA report highlighted the evolving role of incentives as part of a broader priority to improve the culture at financial services firms. As part of its recommendations, the FCA encouraged firms to add robust controls, regularly review programmes and incorporate more behavioural sciences when designing incentive programmes of the future.

Amid these recommendations, it is paramount that financial services firms design incentive programmes that both encourage good conduct and acknowledge the interest of the consumers. It is paramount to define the correct key performance indicators, pay-out timeframes, cadence (monthly vs. quarterly vs. annual) and firmly grasp how much the incentive should be tied to quantitative or qualitative measures.

“Due to the lack of wage growth in the UK and the ever-rising pressure on household income, financial services professionals will continue to see monetary incentives as a crucial component of recognition,” said Louis Stevens, director of Auriemma Consulting Group’s UK Roundtable practice.

At a March meeting of collections and recovery executives hosted by Auriemma, financial services firms shared best practices related to implementing incentive programmes in this evolving environment. Key findings included:

  • Incentive programmes should be designed to motivate lower-performing employees in addition to rewarding top performers. Programmes should be aligned with team- and enterprise-level objectives linked to business performance, professional development and the building of a stronger culture.

 

  • The average pay-out annualised to an agent typically equates to 9.3% of their salary and 8.3% for team leaders. This means that most firms are aligned with the FCA’s desire to not have incentives outweigh base salaries.

 

  • While the FCA’s March paper encouraged financial services firms to consider incentives beyond monetary rewards, cash is still king for financial services employees, outranking other factors such as increased responsibility, achievement and recognition. All of the firms surveyed by Auriemma were using cash incentives.

 

  • When designing new incentive structures, firms should solicit a broad set of opinions from around the business and perform user testing before launching a new programme.

 

Taking a fresh approach to incentive programmes is increasingly crucial given the changing demographics of contact centre agents: According to Auriemma research, 25% of the agent population is between the ages of     18-25 – up from 13.6% in 2015. The future of incentive programmes will be a key theme at the upcoming Collections and Recoveries Roundtable meeting, scheduled for 21st and 22nd June in London.

About Auriemma’s Collections and Recoveries Roundtable

Auriemma runs a series of information sharing and benchmarking Roundtable groups designed for executives and managers. These Roundtables combine executive meetings, industry-leading operational benchmarking, and peer group surveys to help participants identify tools, technologies, and strategies to offer best-in-class customer experience at all touch points. For information on membership in Auriemma’s UK Collections and Recoveries Roundtable, contact Louis Stevens at louis.stevens@acg.net.

About Auriemma Consulting Group

For more than 30 years, Auriemma’s mission has been to empower clients with authoritative data and actionable insights. Our team comprises recognised experts in four primary areas: operational effectiveness, consumer research, co-brand partnerships, and corporate finance. Our business intelligence and advisory services give clients access to the data, expertise and tools they need to navigate an increasingly complex environment and maximise their performance. Auriemma serves the consumer financial services ecosystem from our offices in London and New York City. For more information, visit us at www.acg.net or call +44 (0) 2076-290075.