Laura Alix.
John Bestevaar

In the first place, I wouldn’t agree that the system, as a whole, destroys those good people, but there is sometimes a distinct difference in culture between some of the multi-trillion dollar money-center banks and the smaller, community-focused institutions.

The recent Wells Fargo scandal is a good example of that. No bank branch employee should feel like they have to resort to opening phony accounts just to keep their job, but that doesn’t mean that sales or cross-selling are necessarily evil. Many of the banks I talk to take a different (and they feel, more ethical) approach, where they encourage their branch staff to talk to their customers and just listen for clues that might indicate a need, rather than “You need to sell X checking accounts by Friday, regardless of whether or not the customer wants it.”

In my job, I meet a lot of people who have migrated from those big, quota-driven banks over to community banks, and they welcome the change in expectations from their management. I don’t meet many people who have done the opposite, though as I originally wrote, I’m also talking mainly to community bankers in my work, so that skews my sample.

Moreover, plenty of community bankers manage to carve out a comfortable living without screwing anybody over. I’m not sure I would say the system destroyed them for it, but they also don’t attract a lot of attention for it, either.