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Up Selling in Banking

Written a while ago, but still holds very true, everywhere I go someone is trying to up sell me something!

My wife went in to our Bank last week (the brick and mortar version), to cash a cheque. She decided to do this at a teller, and she stood in line for this privilege. As she got to the teller, suddenly she was accosted by the teller, asking about how our family investments were being handled, and whether we had an investment advisor. Up selling in banking is constant now.

Up selling in banking
You want fries with your GIC?

Mrs. C8j has learned the answer to give, and she simply stated that we take care of our own investments and we were happy with that, however, evidently that was not good enough for this teller. My wife came home with a glossy brochure, and, a flyer about Financial Planning Week, along with the name of a “Financial Planner” who could help us out. I realize this is the bank attempting to “drum up some business” for their Financial Planning income stream, but it is another reason (for me) to stay away from my local branch.

As usual, I should thank TD for giving me more content to rant about, since without them I am not sure what I would be writing about.

Given I feel I have a smart and sophisticated readership, I’d like to give you folks some homework. I do plan on sending an e-mail to this planner and possibly going to visit with him to research how the system now works, however, what kind of questions should I be asking?

Questions to Ask Your Financial Planner

So far, I have a couple of obvious examples:

  • How do you earn your pay ? What is the difference between you and a fee-based financial planner?
  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
  • Could I see a sample financial plan?
  • What makes your client experience unique?
  • Given I have a pension, what kind of a retirement plan do you think I should have?
  • Do you still make money if I lose money?

Am I missing other great questions to ask?

Feel Free to Comment

  1. My recent interaction with a TD teller involved them trying to push credit products at me.

    Teller: “We would like to let you know that based on your balances, you qualify for a credit card with a $XX,000 limit, a $YY,000 new car loan, and a $ZZ,000 unsecured line of credit”.

    Me: “I prefer to have conversations involving my balances in private, instead of in front of all these people in line”.

    1. Very well put! The interactions at the tellers station are annoying enough with them calling me by my first name (you are young enough to be my daughter/son, why are you talking to me like I am a chum of yours?), but announcing balances? That is way over the line.

  2. I always start by asking how they got into the business they are in, and are they ahead of the curve in their own financial path… If I get the answers I like to here, I usually say, show me, or show me some proof so they can earn my trust that they know what they are talking about, and not just selling something to make them money… Suffice to say, more times than not, I’m usually walking out the door based on their own financial successes. That said I have been surprised on occasion and as such made a new friend 😉 – cheers

  3. Hi C8J,

    Here are my favourite questions for financial planners (in no particular order)

    1) Do you have a fiduciary responsibility to your clients? answer: No
    2) Are you able to sell me another company’s mutual fund? Answer: usually no
    3) Are you licensed to sell mutual funds and ETFs? answer: usually no
    4) How do I see the total cost of a mutual fund or ETF? answer: it is in the MRFP (Managers Report of Fund Performance) document.
    5) Do you use DSC (Deferred Sales Charge) funds?
    6) Do you have index or no-load funds?
    7) What services do you provide in addition to the two meetings per year?
    8) What is the difference between a mutual fund and an ETF?
    9) What are the differences between active and passive fund management?
    10) What is the value of diversification within a portfolio?
    11) What is CRM2 and how is it being implemented?

    I have more, but these should make the salesperson (not an Advisor!) uncomfortable.


  4. I would start out by keeping my mouth shut, even playing dumb, and letting them talk. See what they reveal about themselves and the bank before putting them on the defensive with tough questions.

    And I assume you have this information but make sure you know what kind of returns you’re currently getting on your own and see if anything they propose matches those returns.

    Especially see what kind of investments they’re going to put your money into. Are they going to convert all your investments into a “model portfolio” of the bank’s actively managed funds that are regularly re-balanced?

    And finally, see if they’ll cover all the costs of switching. Or if you’re going to have to lose money right off.

  5. Please do send the email and share their answers with your readers! A couple of other questions that come to mind:
    (1) How much will your services cost me?
    (2) I’d like to see your past performance numbers and how they stacked up against benchmarks including your returns during the great recession of 2008-09.

  6. Kathy Your Net Worth Manager

    If its any consolation 99% of the staff hate having to ask you and push for leads. This isn’t new its been going on for years in Europe. 15 years ago when I worked in the UK bank staff bonus relied on this. It seems like a good idea but so many people say yes just to get away most of the “leads” that go to the financial advisor are useless. They then get the line , well you don’t have to prospect we do it for you so banks pay a terrible % of commission out.

    Don’t forget there is a difference between fee only and fee based. You say fee based . The high net worth part of that bank is fee based ( charges a % of AUM ) fee only charges you a flat pre agreed fee so you know the advice is not swayed by the size of what you have or type of products that pay more commission. Fee based may not keep a cash portion or will say don’t pay off mortgage / fix up cottage / don’t buy annuity etc as they want your funds under management. As always there are good and bad apples but the system is broken.
    Ahem hint….shameless promotion ……we are flat fee… and Benjamin Waite Your Investment Advisor

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