Photographer: Kelvin Ma/Bloomberg

Citizens Falls on Report Workers Faked Bank Appointment Data

  • Employees tell newspaper they overstated meetings to hit goals
  • ‘The program is effectively managed and our data is accurate’

Citizens Financial Group Inc. dropped the most in the 24-company KBW Bank Index after some branch workers told a newspaper they faked information about customers attending its “Citizens Checkup” program.

Eleven current and former Citizens employees in five states told the Wall Street Journal that they or others overstated how many times they scheduled or conducted meetings with customers while struggling to meet appointment goals.

“We believe that the program is effectively managed and our data is accurate,” the bank said in a statement after the report. “Nevertheless, we take every allegation seriously and we’ll conduct a thorough review.”

Citizens, Rhode Island’s largest lender, dropped 1.5 percent to $34.49 at 4:15 p.m. in New York after earlier falling as much as 3.3 percent. The stock has slipped 3.2 percent this year, worse than the 0.4 percent decline of the KBW index.

In a January presentation to investors and analysts, the bank said its checkup program has resulted in 400,000 scheduled appointments in 2016. The achievement was listed alongside Citizens’ consumer-banking initiatives that supported “solid deposit and loan growth” during the fourth quarter. The bank told the Journal that figures on the program presented to investors weren’t overstated and that those metrics were “not a key financial measure.”

“We believe that our checkup program is the right way to build stronger relationships with our customers and better understand their needs,” the company said in its statement. It’s “off to a strong start as evidenced by our surveys, which show high customer satisfaction.”

The goal of the appointments was to sell more products, and employees didn’t say they opened any customer accounts without consent, according to the newspaper.

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