Target-culture takes hold at Bank of America’s struggling equities business

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Things are not going totally well for Bank of America in equities sales and trading. In the first nine months of this year, revenues there fell 18% year-over-year – more than at any other bank. BofA has responded to this like any large and slightly bureaucratic organization might: by instituting Key Performance Indicators, also known as KPIs, by insisting that its staff meet strict and unattainable targets.

Bloomberg reports that equities salespeople at Bank of America have been told that they must attend 30 client meetings per month. The number of meetings attended by each individual sales person will then be displayed internally in order to shame shirkers into pressing the flesh.

People who don’t attend enough meetings will have their shortcomings “addressed” at the end of the year. Some salespeople (those working with hedge funds, for example) only have to attend 20 meetings a month. However, this is seen as a challenge because hedge fund traders don’t leave their desks during working hours and therefore it would be tantamount to a command to work evenings or very early mornings.

In response to the KPI edict from on high, it seems BofA’s salespeople are doing what any disgruntled employees might: they’re fabricating meetings to reach their targets. Some have, “exaggerate(d) their meeting logs to avoid missing goals ahead of bonus season,” says Bloomberg.

Matters are made worse by the fact that BofA has imposed strict restrictions on entertainment spending of $150 a person for dinner, $75 for lunch and $30 for breakfast. Bankers who break these restrictions have apparently been made to reimburse the cost from their own pockets.

If you are aware of any unreasonable KPI-related targets at your own or other firms, please share these with us in the comments box below…

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