Wednesday 21 August 2019

Third of bank staff concerned by failure to act in customers' interests

Launch: Acting CEO, Marion Kelly; Minister of State Michael D’Arcy; and Irish Banking Culture Board’s Chairman, Mr Justice John Hedigan
Launch: Acting CEO, Marion Kelly; Minister of State Michael D’Arcy; and Irish Banking Culture Board’s Chairman, Mr Justice John Hedigan
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

One in three bank staff say they have wanted to raise concerns at work in the past year - mainly over their own banks not acting in the best interests of customers or clients.

A survey of employees across the five main retail lenders found that of those who wanted to raise a concern, 59pc spoke up, while one in four didn't do so.

The main reasons employees did not speak up were fear it would be held against them, and/or that nothing would happen anyway.

And it appears their fears were justified, with 42pc of staff who did raise issues saying they were not listened to or not taken seriously.

The results of the survey were unveiled at the launch of the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) an initiative aimed at rebuilding shattered trust in the banking sector in the wake of scandals including the bank bailouts and the tracker redress scheme.

The IBCB is "the last chance for banks to restore trust", Minister of State Michael D'Arcy said at the launch in Dublin yesterday.

The financial crisis and tracker mortgage scandal had done "terrific damage for your (banking) institutions", he told industry representatives at the launch event.

There was a "real need to promote a sustainable banking sector that adheres to the highest standards of professionalism in its treatment of customers", he said.

Costs of the IBCB are being funded by the five Irish retail banks; AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank.

Senior executives from those banks, most notably including Ulster Bank CEO Jane Howard, will also hold five of the 14 seats on the IBCB.

IBCB's chairman Mr Justice John Hedigan said the fact that the banks were paying for the new structure did not mean it would "be dancing to anyone's tune".

"The alternative to the banks financing it is that the taxpayers finance it and that's unthinkable in the circumstances in which we find ourselves," Mr Hedigan said.

"The banks own the problem and the banks have to own the solution as well."

He added that "great care" had been taken to ensure that the consumer interest was represented.

Financial adviser Padraic Kissane, a leading advocated in the tracker restoration cases, is the consumer representative. Sue O'Neill, from the Small Firms Association, and Martin Stapleton, of the Irish Farmer's Association, will also represent customers of banks.

Bank staff are represented by Gareth Murphy of the Financial Services Union (FSU).

Bankers on the board will not be paid, including Gareth Murphy, although the other members will be paid €30,000 per year.

Mr Hedigan said the aim of the IBCB is to shift the culture that determines behaviour within financial institutions.

"It's culture that you need in the background to ensure that proper regulation and proper behaviour is maintained by the banks," he said.

He added that it's all about embedding in the staff a culture "in which ethical behaviour is inevitable and where, in future, leadership that want to behave in a way that isn't appropriate will not find a compliant staff behind them ready to go there".

Read more:

Charlie Weston: 'A massive imbalance in favour of bankers means that this initiative looks doomed from the start'

Irish Independent

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