A look at how we can make better decisions, more of the time
It’s not uncommon for adults to reflect back on their teenage years and wonder, ‘What was I thinking?’ There may be particular decisions you made that make you question what type of person you were and why you did what you did. The answer for some will be peer group pressure – which is particularly intense in our formative years. But what excuse do we have as adults for poor decisions? The answer is – many!
How does an organisation recover and rebuild from ethical failure? What do you do when you have failed your ethical duties as an organisation, and significantly compromised trust with your stakeholders? These are difficult times for any organisation. The good news is, I do believe that organisations can emerge from ethical failure stronger than what they were prior to the incident.
How the language we use at work can undermine the very cultures we wish to create.
As the banking and finance industry is increasingly held to account by the public, and regulators attempt to grapple with how to best manage risk, the consideration of the role of language in both creating and undermining ethical work cultures is essential.
Today, starting a business often requires getting a loan. Yet more often than not, getting a loan requires some form of collateral as security. As traditional types of security like the family home become further out of reach for the incoming generation of entrepreneurs, how will our traditional approach to lending need to change?
Do companies exist solely to advance the interests of their shareholders, or do they have a broader social obligation? Professor David R Gallagher recognises that this question has been debated since the advent of the limited liability company in the seventeenth century and explores why a question that previously remained largely confined within a scholarly domain has recently become an issue of mainstream social concern.
Ironically, it seems like one of the ethical issues faced by people in the banking and finance industry is whether or not to take The Banking and Financial Services Oath (BFO). Trent identifies two central dilemmas. Firstly, that the Oath is taken with the right motivation or intent; and secondly, whether or not The BFSO will actually have a positive effect – on the individual and on the wider industry.
Some may ask how much one’s word is really worth. When some look at The Banking and Financial Services Oath and critique the initiative, they ask, ‘Can it really do anything?’ It’s just words after all.
Barrister Nicolette Bearup writes of the need for the finance industry to rebuild trust particularly in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, through ethical leadership that brings about real cultural change. She explores the potential of the Banking and Financial Services Oath and considers whether anything might be learned from current practice in the legal profession.
Clare Payne, Board Member of The BFSO and Consulting Fellow with St James Ethics Centre, asserts the significance of The BFSO in working towards a self-regulating, ethically conscious industry. She writes of the need to recognise that ethics and banking are not incongruous terms and should never be considered in common discourse. In light of this, Clare encourages signatories to use The BFSO as an opportunity to spark that conversation.
Dennis Gentilin laments the paradigm shift over the past thirty years within the banking and finance industry; from a humble and highly respected profession to a selfish and often greedy moneymaking pursuit. To rectify this cultural malaise, he encourages taking The Banking and Financial Services Oath as a first step, and to live by its principles throughout one’s professional life.
We have produced a video to increase the awareness of The BFSO within the industry and the community at large and hope that you will share it with colleagues and friends.
Louise Drolz, Principal at Remedy Financial, speaks of a personal situation in which she has followed The BFSO: “I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same”. She has followed through on this action with pride and strength despite it being a difficult decision, and emphasises that there is no “unless it’s to my detriment” addendum.
Kathleen Gilbert, the Ethi-call Coordinator, writes of the temptation to take the easy way out when faced with a difficult ethical dilemma. In such situations, she suggests the service offered by Ethi-call, a free and confidential ethics counselling service facilitated by St James Ethics Centre. On behalf of Ethi-call, Kathleen supports The BFSO in providing useful guidance to individuals who might be struggling with an ethical dilemma.
Mark Rantall, CEO of the Financial Planning Association, reflects on his experience at a St. James Ethics course. He discusses the increasingly pertinent, yet seemingly brushed aside, “grey area” in ethical practice in the banking and finance industry. He stresses that when your profession is based on a foundation of trust, it is critical that you do everything to enshrine that trust, protect it and promote it. Taking The BFSO is significant way to do this.
Watch two of Australia’s leaders in banking and finance, Mr. Simon McKeon AO (Chairman of AMP) and Mr. Steve Tucker (Executive Chairman of Westoz Investment Management), in a compelling discussion with Dr. Simon Longstaff AO (Executive Director of St James ethics Centre). They discuss critical moments in their careers where they came to an ethical crossroads, making decisions sometimes with ease and at other times testing their moral boundaries.
The Executive Director of St. James Ethics Centre, Dr. Simon Longstaff, ruminates on the origins of ethical shortcomings in the banking and finance industry. He suggests that the majority of wrongdoers are not usually avaricious and manipulative characters, but in fact moderately decent people who are engaging in practices they consider commonplace. This needs to change, starting with the recognition of ethical standards and the inter-personal accountability perpetuated by The BFSO.
Pauline Vamos, ASFA Chief Executive Officer, acknowledges the responsibility of banking and finance professionals to make ethical decisions, particularly considering the asymmetry of information, knowledge and power in the practitioner/client relationship. She urges the industry to engage with this notion on a personal and conversational level, and start from the ground-up with The BFSO.
Cris Parker, the newly appointed Executive of The BFSO, introduces herself, outlines her role and discusses her hopes for the future of The BFSO.
Stephen Dunne, BFSO Chairman, reflects upon the dangers of finding short-term solutions to financial problems, or ones that deliver results for clients in the shortest time span, as these often hold ethical flaws, and come at the expense of long-term stability and trust. The BFSO seeks to improve the ethical fabric of all market participants and thereby build a sustainable industry in the long-term.
Clare Payne, BFSO Board Member and Consulting Fellow with St. James Ethics Centre, contemplates the question: who do you work for? She considers the banking and finance industry’s obligation to society at large. As an industry founded upon a social contract with trust at its core, it should ultimately be guided by this philosophy when ethical obligations may seem unclear.
With over 25 years of experience in financial services, Steve Tucker reminds us that the banking and finance industry looks after real people’s hopes and dreams and has a major influence on the wellbeing and security of individuals. In light of this, he stresses the need for trust at the heart of the profession. He writes that negative perceptions and distrust regarding the industry can, and should, be dispelled through each professional’s commitment to ethical practice and The BFSO community.
Philip Chronican draws on over 30 years experience in banking to reflect upon the Global Financial Crisis, and how it exposed major flaws in the finance profession. He discusses the value of industry leaders taking The BFSO, in that their message will filter down through the organisational hierarchy and influence individuals to commit to ethical behaviour.
Steve Harker, Managing Director and CEO for Morgan Stanley Australia, encourages all people involved in the banking and finance industry to become a signatory of The BFSO, in order to reinforce the integrity of the profession as a whole. At the very least, he writes, it requires each person to think about every action undertaken in an ethical framework that will continue to strengthen over time.
Trevor Rowe, Executive Chairman of Rothschild Australia, writes of the erosion of public faith in financial markets over the last decade. He attributes the tarnished reputation of the industry to a number of scandals and issues involving corruption, stressing the need for this to stop with the actions of individuals. This is the both the origin and the endgame of the Banking and Financial Services Oath – for every person in the industry to stand by values and ethics that protect and reward us all.
We are at a fork in the road as our society faces social and environmental challenges like climate change, mass-extinction, inequality and corruption that threaten to undermine the systems we have taken for granted for generations.While these issues are diverse and complex, a wealth of high-quality information exists which is devoted to solutions from a broad range of sources, indeed all the solutions for the challenges we face exist today.The finance and investment industry have a significant i...
Before I share some elements of this culture, it is worth pointing out that GetCapital is a young business - 4 years old and only 75 staff. We have had the benefit of building our business from scratch, with complete control over prioritizing company objectives, establishing corporate values and developing a unique culture. Clearly, most financial service companies don’t have the same degree of flexibility and are weighed down by size, legacy and a diverse set of stakeholders with competing interests.
An executive high-flyer who spent her first years on the poverty-stricken streets of Manila has told how she walked away from corporate life - as she felt like a fraud.
According to the Harvard Business Review, English is now the global language of business. English is declared the working language of the World Bank, The European Central Bank, (based in Frankfurt, Germany) and AXA (the French multinational insurance firm headquartered in Paris).
It is impossible to legislate or regulate to completely eliminate either poor or criminal behaviour in society. Ultimately it comes down to the individual and one’s own ethics and integrity.
It may seem outdated to refer to the GFC but it seems at least, some of the issues remain. After the GFC it was believed the industries’ deficiencies could only be corrected by increased regulation and surveillance. However, there were opinions at the time that ethical failure had played a part in the crisis, rather than a lack of regulation.