Bankers pessimistic about pace of culture change in their industry as CISI suggests those undertaking its culture training programme should have the courage to say so

By Lora Benson | Feb 24, 2016

Bankers remain pessimistic about the pace of culture change within their industry, according to the latest online survey by the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI).

The survey, which asked respondents to consider, in the light of the FCA’s decision to discontinue its thematic review into the culture of banks: “How long do you think it will take (from now) until the public really believe that banks have changed their culture?” showed that 50% said that it would take more than 10 years. In 2013, when asked the same question, feedback indicated that 39% thought it would take over 10 years.

The online survey attracted 694 respondents, with 29% indicating they thought it would be “Between six and ten years” before a change in culture would be acknowledged.

Over 60 comments were left on the survey, including:

“There remains massive distrust amongst the public. I don’t see any sign of this reducing.”

“Unfortunately the constant trial by media, bad press and scaremongering has left a bad taste in the mouth of the general public.”

“Possibly never. The new generation of challenger banks must prove they are different and embrace ‘treating customers fairly’. It is too late for the old guard.”

The FCA announced in December 2015 that it would be shelving its review of banking culture and that the Banking Standards Board (BSB), owing to its status, is better placed to carry out such a review without raising any of the tensions which a visit from the regulator will inevitably raise.

Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI said: “Over the last 18 months we have been involved with a number of major international banks, with significant presence in the UK, demonstrating quite clearly that they are serious about achieving culture change. But why are they reticent about making the fact public? Training should be not seen as a sign of inherent weakness but as a demonstration that a bank understands and accepts its responsibilities.

“In addition we are partners in the Investing In Integrity (III) certification programme with the Institute of Business Ethics, which examines how successful firms are in introducing and embedding a code of conduct into their organisation. A number of major industrial and services companies have subscribed to this initiative – but financial services and banking, in particular, seem reluctant to put themselves to the test.

“Being more open about the actions that they are taking would, we believe, be seen as a positive step which would help to counteract the negative perceptions resulting from the FCA announcement.”