Interaction between clients and bank staff continues to be largely product-driven, rather than focused on assessing client needs, according to the latest survey by Dalbar.

The Trends & Best Practices in the Retail Branch Client Experience report is based on mystery shoppers conducting 200 unique visits in different branches, both urban and rural, across Ontario. These results were combined with an equal number of objective third party bank branch visits, yielded a dataset of 400 unique experiences.

“We encountered a lot of pleasant interactions, but few that truly represented a holistic discussion around a client’s financial plan,” says David Fang, senior research analyst at Dalbar. “Representatives were eager to promote certain products, but it is crucial that these products are appropriate in the spectrum of a client’s investment strategy and portfolio.

The result was a client experience that left the impression of pushy and aggressive sales force.

What’s the takeaway?  For the banks, they should probably start training their branch reps to conduct better needs analysis, or at the very least, better communicate how a specific product fits into the client’s financial picture.

“Banks are promoting that their experiences are superior, but the actual conversations are still product-driven, if you really listen to them,” says Anita Lo, Dalbar’s vice-president of Canadian strategy. “Training needs to be more fine-tuned in putting the client first, and the product second.”

For non-bank advisors, this is an opportunity to differentiate your service offering.  Continued focus on needs analysis and holistic financial planning should result in a more engaging client experience, rather than the client feeling they are simply facing a salesperson.

So how did Canada’s big five banks score?

  1. TD Bank Financial Group (78.8)
  2. BMO Financial Group (75.7)
  3. Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (74.2)

  5. RBC Royal Bank (72.8)
  6. Scotiabank (69.1)

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Okay, allow me to blow the smoke off this for you. I, too, as a young man worked for a bank. The bank PAID ME A SALARY, which meansI was beholden to the bank and where there was a conflict, the pressure was to put the interest of the bank first. Not only is this logical, but moral: if you accept a salary from someone, that is whose interest you are expected and obliged to uphold. On the other hand, if you work as an agent the relationship is different and you need to put the client’s interests first. Banks are not set up to do that. Banks have a role in finances and it is an important one but it is not possible or even desirable to expect that the banks will do what a qualified financial planner who is in this business for the long run can co.

Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012 at 6:57 am Reply


Hogwash. I worked for a bank as well. Acting in the best interests of the clients is the only moral stance. In the long run it will improve client relationships and improve client retention, leading to longer term revenue for the banks. Stating that advisor, client and bank motivations do not align is a load of bullshit; sorry for my frankness.

There are ample “qualified financial planners” who work within the big 5 financial institutions. Why in the world would you try to infer that a bank cannot provide what a “qualified financial planner who is in this this business for the long” is able to? The “bank” isn’t some faceless entity; there are competent financial planners who work in most branches AS THEIR CAREER. Quite honestly, I’d have more faith in the institutions than independent advisors.

Friday, Sep 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Kathryn Jankowski

Having worked for the green, red and a blue bank they all base compensation to how much you can sell. Unless this changes the motivation will always be directed towards selling product. The other issue, in my opinion, is the experience level on the bank floor. It’s not often that you see anyone over the age of 35 giving advice. As a fee-based advisor I hear things I cringe at being told to my client base by inexperienced bankers. The bank staff that is experienced cannot meet their lofty sales goals so they leave. Experience and the ability to mentor junior staff is not rewarded.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 10:01 am Reply


Really now???? This very same article was posted last year and surprising have the same statistics. Hmmmm….

Friday, May 18, 2012 at 5:49 pm Reply