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Finance sector urged to ‘think like a customer’

The finance industry should try to ‘think like a customer’ when considering ethical issues, according to a report from BlessingWhite.

The study, Leading in the New Regulatory World, calls for improved employee engagement, stating that it “is not a fluffy HR term, it’s a cultural state”.

“Leaders at all levels in an organisation need to be concerned about the levels of engagement of their team – committed and engaged individuals do the right thing because they are inspired and motivated to do it," the report says.

Concerning the bad reputation some financial institutions have gained in the past few years, the report recommends that firms look closely at their employer brand. It suggests taking the time to reward and recognise behaviours that shape a healthy culture, such as providing good customer service and lowering the risk level of trades.

There are three key themes in the report:

  • 'Paralysis in the face of complexity and uncertainty', which covers the multitude of rules and regulations followed by employees and institutions in the finance sector;
  • 'Reputation, relationship and risk', which discusses the reputation of the banks and looks into the responsibility of management; and
  • 'Right people, right drivers, right action', which investigates how to develop an appropriate culture and talent pool.

One of the key challenges facing financial recruiters will be seeking out candidates whose motivations do not compromise the firm’s integrity or stability, according to the paper.

BlessingWhite recommends trying to spot talented individuals early and provide the right development to allow them to gain experience and knowledge in the right areas. This should ensure that organisations have the right future talent in the pipeline.

BlessingWhite senior leadership consultant Erica Sosna said that there is work underway to develop a code of conduct for banking to help clarify how employees should behave.

She told HR magazine: “A doctor is constantly checking their actions against the Hippocratic oath. A lawyer can be struck off if they are found to behave unethically. But that isn’t the case with banking.

“When there is a professional code of conduct in this industry employees will have to consider if their actions are worth risking their career for.”

However, she said she understood that it can be hard to quantify the effects of enforcing ethical behaviour.

“Finding the right measurement definitely helps and supports the right behaviour," she said. "I’ve found that what gets measured gets done."

“Can you remain principled and profitable?” she added. “That remains to be seen.”