The BBA held its inaugural conference on Better Banking on Thursday 4th December in recognition of the growing importance of culture and standards in the banking industry, and the pivotal role that ethical behaviour will play in restoring society’s trust and confidence in the sector...
The day started with a provocative statement; echoing Lord Adair Turner's comment that banks are 'socially useless'. It was also a reference to the findings of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. They found that 'a culture exists in banking which diminishes a sense of personal responsibility' (PCBS report June 2013).
It is clear that despite all of the talk there is still a long way for banks to go in restoring trust and confidence. There remains a disconnect between the words of senior executives and the commonly practiced behaviours of staff throughout organisations.
Personal responsibility is key to rebuilding trust. Employees need to be actively engaged in new ways of working where they act in a fair and honest manner and put the interests of customers first. In an age of real time accountability, furthered through technology and social media, the need to exhibit the right behaviours and act in a customer centric manner becomes even more of an imperative.
Every business rests on trust; if words and actions are not aligned then it is put at risk. You cannot expect, nor ask, employees to demonstrate principle-led behaviour when their sales targets motivate them to behave contrary to this. How should you react to employees that clearly do not embrace new cultural expectations and behaviours, yet still deliver financial performance? What do you do with employees, and more importantly senior leaders, who act and behave in a manner that is contrary to the culture you are trying to embed? The truths revealed by these questions provide an early indication of how serious a matter organisations consider cultural change to be.
Will banks be able to progress, beyond nice words on posters, towards genuine cultural change where all employees are aligned and engaged to deliver exceptional customer experience and business performance?