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Why Do We Even HAVE That Team?

, , , , , , , , , | Working | July 17, 2020

I work as a head of confirms for a large bank. Basically, we pull transactions from our system, receive a similar list from a counterparty (CP), match them off, and send a confirmation notice back, as well as an email to another department for regulatory purposes. 

Management one day had — in their minds — a brilliant money-saving idea: moving the confirms department to a new office in India and shuffling the London team around to other departments, with just me left to oversee things. This office proved themselves to be woefully incompetent, rude, and lacking in any industry knowledge during the setup.

Eventually, we had to remote into their PCs and set up everything for them, as well as train and show them what to do. During said training, we realised they weren’t there anymore and had gone to lunch. Despite our pleas to management, they still insisted on pushing ahead. But this was only the tip of the iceberg of what was to come.

Their initial responsibilities were: incoming emails, matching and emailing CPs back, with a view to set them up on incoming and outgoing calls. Needless to say, we dreaded what was going to happen.

Within the first week, none of the reports went out to any CPs or the regulations team; the Indian office claimed they never received anything to match with. After a few days of searching with no solution as to why, they suddenly said they had email and web portal rules set up to delete anything that didn’t come from the London office and that they were not changing that rule. With two days wasted, we had to get the CPs to re-send everything to the London team, format it, and then send it to India. Problem solved, right? Wrong!

We got more complaints from CPs that most of the reports were not being sent back to them and the ones that they did receive were full of mistakes. So, we investigated again. It turned out their lack of industry knowledge was so shockingly poor, and they were incorrectly matching everything by hand — despite being given our automated system; apparently, they preferred manual effort — and matching [Bank] New York to transactions with [Bank] Singapore and making countless typos in the process.

So, it was decided that London would have to verify all matching, but India would still handle matching and outgoing emails. The London team quickly took over the matching as everything was constantly late — even though management told us not to.

Two days after this was decided, the Indian office sent our entire list of transactions to every CP — a serious regulatory breach. Most CPs were understanding enough to delete it but some never replied. The Indian office was warned about doing this, and the day after, they sent the transactions for [Other Bank] to everyone.

The regulatory team was also told by the office manager they didn’t want to send them their email, no further context, and they hung up whenever questioned. The decision was quick to assign outgoing emails back to the London team, but any phone and email queries would be routed to India. We were reassured they would be more than capable enough to handle this; we were not so optimistic.

Within the first two weeks of this going live, we received the following complaints:

  1. The Indian office calling up several US banks, not identifying themselves, and asking for transaction details with our bank.
  2. Swearing under their breath in Hindi and English whilst on the phone to people who understood both languages.
  3. When a bank phoned them to ask something, they answered, “I don’t know,” and hung up.
  4. Not answering the phone at all, because they just left the office.
  5. Keeping a customer on hold whilst they chatted and laughed in the background.
  6. Not telling anyone when their phones went down for several hours.
  7. Phoning the wrong CP and giving transaction details.

That one was the last straw.

It got so bad we had CPs telling us there was a scam call centre impersonating us, and we had to admit, embarrassed, that they were our genuine confirms department, prompting plenty of remarks of disbelief. 

Following the regulatory breach, all phones were directed back to London. Also important, none of my London team had moved department in this whole saga given how we had to fix — and eventually take over — each one of their responsibilities, so we just kept our jobs. 

The process now is: emails and transactions come to the London team, where all the formatting is done, and we send it to India. London then does all the matching and queries and then sends all outgoing emails to CPs. At some unknown point, the matching email from India is received; it’s late, full of errors, and promptly deleted.

In two years of doing this, the Indian office has never sent back something on time or correct. It’s always a minimum of eight days late and with 60% of it incorrect, no matter how much training we provide, so we have given up trying with them. Given that we are now back to the original process, only with an extra office, one more employee in London as a liaison, and our reputation tanked, management still sees this venture as a success!


This story is part of our July 2020 Roundup – the best stories of the month!

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