The news reports about the financial industry focus on failing banks and corporate greed. This creates a perception that the financial services sector is one of the most corrupt in the nation, according to ethics expert Anne Federwish writing for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The perception that financial experts are generally corrupt has created challenges to customer service excellence in the financial industry.
Regaining Customer Trust
It can be challenging when a bank teller or a loan officer tries to explain something to a customer, and that customer does not show trust in what the professional is saying. Customers have always had their own interests in mind when speaking to financial institutions, but the way that the dealings of financial companies have been portrayed in the media has broken much of the trust with customers. Financial companies have been seen receiving public bail-out money and then accused of misappropriating those funds. The public sees a financial industry that is looking to take advantage of the customer even more than in the past, and that can create a breakdown of trust between the customer and the financial industry. Customer service professionals in the financial sector are forced to add extra steps of reassurance to their normal procedures to gain some level of trust from clients.
Continued Unethical Behavior
If the system that existed for rewarding certain activities is still in place within the financial industry, there will be those that continue to try to take advantage of the situation, according to Anne Federwisch of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was designed to prevent publicly traded companies from misappropriating funds through deceptive accounting practices. That only helps calm some of the nerves of the American public. As of 2010, the financial sector still pays bonuses based on performance and bringing in revenue is still the main goal. Federwisch uses the example of the annuities salesman selling an annuity to an elderly client based on incentives for the salesman rather than worrying about the best needs of the client. The customer service end of the financial sector suffers when unethical behavior continues, and customers still feel they need to protect themselves from the financial industry.
Since 2002 there has been the Sarbane-Oxley Act to regulate accounting by public companies, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 to help prevent consumer identity theft and increase credit reporting accountability to the consumer and seven separate major bailouts of individual corporations or whole industrial sectors. When the government gets that involved in the financial industry, there will be new laws and regulations that the financial sector must follow. Extensive training of financial customer service professionals is necessary to prevent misinforming clients about changes or additions to government regulations. For a customer service associate to legally help a customer, she must first be able to understand the dynamic landscape of financial industry regulations.