Yesterday saw the British Bankers’ Association hold its annual Retail Banking conference. The focus of the conference was the work that is still to be done on improving banking conduct, culture and customer service of banks over the next five years.
As the above quote (given at the conference by António Horta-Osório) suggests, it is high time for banks to bite the bullet and embrace the need for change. The path to finding the best ways of engaging with customers and winning back their trust will not be easy or short, but the institutional will must exist.
John Griffiths-Jones, Chairman of the FCA, said that retail banks now “get” the fact that they need to improve. The Chairman believes that the latest wave of strategies, values and ethics issued from bank’s boardrooms really do intend to put customers back into the heart of the banking system.
Yet it is clear that despite all the talk there is still a long way for banks to go in restoring trust and confidence. There is still a disconnect between the words of senior executives and the behaviours demonstrated by front-line employees. The Chairman also made clear that he understands that top-down strategies, values and ethics, whilst important, can take eons to filter down to all staff. How long will it be until customers see real change amongst the customer-facing front-lines of organisations?
To restore society’s trust and confidence in the sector, bank’s must begin to deeply embed a sustainable, ethical front-line culture. Employee reward should focus on positive customer outcomes, rather than high sales figures. Standard processes and controls are essential to prevent the mistakes of the past and to limit the potential of mistakes occurring in the future. Leaders must be held to account for employee’s conduct and behaviour.
António Horta-Osório also urged banks to stop whinging about regulation and “move on”. The heads of the Banking Standards Board, the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Money Advice Trust agree that there is much more that the banks need to do to “do the right thing proactively”, rather than wait for regulators to force them to do it.
Customer trends also continue the uptake of mobile banking. Banks must embrace the change; engaging their employees to improve the customer experience and build trust. Technology is not just a means to increase efficiencies and raise margins by closing bank branches.
Not only has Unipart changed and developed its own culture, but we have helped many others on this journey. We know how organisations can change culture in a way that is sustainable and which delivers many positive long term benefits. Yet, we at Unipart often bear witness to a lack of understanding in organisations when it comes to the task of cultural change.