Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Working at a big bank: "Survival of the well-connected"?

Working at Bank of America Corp. is like struggling to survive in "a vast ocean," one employee wrote in a letter to the Observer this week.

The person, who asked not to be identified, wrote a fictional account from the perspective of a new employee learning the ropes at the Charlotte bank. When the worker notices scores of bankers chatting at a coffee shop, for instance, his mentor tells him getting ahead is all about networking.

"Sounds like survival of the fittest," the worker says.

"Survival of the well-connected is how I will put it," the mentor replies.

A bank spokesman today declined to comment on the employee's account.

The bank worker wrote that that culture results in people ending up in the wrong jobs. It fuels a constant rotation of managers and sometimes prompts leadership to promote "a whole bunch of people ... indiscriminately, because they have no real clue who is doing the job and who is not," only to later demote those employees.

"There is no career plan," he said. "Only a survival plan."

The bank is also constantly reorganizing - about every other month - the employee wrote.

"When someone is put in a new role, they will go through a learning process and become proficient to start performing their job well," he said. "However, it also means that they will make decisions, and there is a risk that they may make mistakes. To prevent them from making mistakes, the bank will proactively reorganize them to new roles before they get up to speed in their current job."

Another gripe involves the bank's pay-for-performance compensation. Instead of evaluating workers' actual performance, managers make guesses mid-year on whether they think employees will achieve their goals by the end of the year, the employee wrote.

“Performance review is something like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy,” he said. “Everyone knows it is not real, but we happily continue telling our children anyway.”

What do you think? Do his complaints ring true? Are his observations typical of most large corporate workplaces, or do they highlight issues distinctive to one of Charlotte’s biggest employers?


CharlotteAppraiser said...

I work at an appraisal firm, and there's this guy at the end of the hall that does, like, zero work. He never turns in any reports on time and he smells really bad. But, he still makes more money than me. What gives? That guy is just the Pitts.

John said...


This is only "news" to a reporters so new in their jobs that they probably can't get into happy hour yet!

Networking has always been an important part of any career plan. For a very good reason... networking is about building personal relationships of mutual confidence and trust.

You go to the people you've learned through experience that you can trust to get things done.

Many of the criticisms cited do exist, but they are NOT a result of networking.

Come on observer, put somebody more qualified in charge of your financial reporting! These two look like they belong covering the social scene. We can't take them seriously!

CharlotteAppraiser said...

There's plenty of facts and information in this article that make it newsworthy. If this "John" is such a thorough investigative reporter, maybe he should get a job at the CO instead of trolling in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday.

John said...


I've worked in the financial industry longer than either of those kids has been alive. It's too complex an issue for rookie reporters. I've got a checking account older than they are!

Again, they start off with the premise that there is something inherently wrong with networking and that is total BS.

I have no connection with, or love for BofA but I know hatchet jobs when I see them.

John said...

" instead of trolling in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday."

Oh, and I'm already off work for the day, how about YOU?

Skippy said...

Another hard hitting piece of yellow journalsim.. Well done.

Dolley said...

OMG - say it isn't so - Bank of America is little more than a shark tank where the sharks never stop moving? Say it isn't so! BML - Before Merrill Lynch - Bofa was a reputable place to work. When Brian came in he replaced "Doing the Right Thing" in the Core Values statement to "Winning." And the proceeded to prove himself the biggest loser...

Pincha said...

I believe everyone's experience at Bank of America is based on the team,bank's initiative and goals' at that time, your timeline, and line of business that you work for. I had previously worked for boa for 7 years. It is what you make of it and how you adapt. I worked in two different lines of businesses and the people I worked for were an advocate of developing your career and wanted me to grow. Ultimately you are your own destiny. said...

Big banks mimic big government these days... out of date, inefficient, lack leadership and common sense!

Jeffry Pilcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.