Poor culture leads to poor conduct. Following the release of the Commissioner’s final report, it’s clear that businesses need to get their culture and governance right.
Insight: The culture and governance of financial services institutions has failed, and this has been the primary cause of continued misconduct among businesses.
Data: Consumers have a poor perception of ethics in the finance sector. In fact, the Australian Ethics Index has fallen six points since 2017, from 41 to 35. (Business Insider)
Key Action Point: Read the top-line summary below to learn about the implications for the financial services companies moving forward.
The Commissioner’s interim and final report provided six basic behavioural norms that every institution should adhere to:
Obey the law
Do not mislead or deceive
Provide services that are fit for purpose
Deliver services with reasonable care and skill
When acting for another, act in the best interests of that other
Here is a brief top-line summary of snackable insights with key implications.
1. The Future of Finance Is Customer-Centricity
We must act in the best interests of customers and members. In the age of the customer, the Australian financial services industry has a long way to go to improve how customers perceive it. Organisations may need to rethink how they plan and execute their customer experiences.
Have a look at your organisation. Are you delivering seamless and personalised experiences to your clients? Do customer outcomes drive your organisation?
According to Roy Morgan's Net Trust Score, customers consider banks as the most distrusted organisations in the country. However, on the other side of the spectrum, customers of Bendigo Bank reported the highest level of satisfaction amongst all the largest banks in the country. It’s the only bank that made it to the top 10 most trusted brands, thus ranking as the #1 most trusted bank in Australia.
Other financial organisations need to take a page from Bendigo Bank. They need to start treating trust not just as a marketing tactic but a culture strategy.
2. The Necessity to Change and Sustain Change
Financial institutions are expected to take an active role in creating and monitoring their culture. As outlined in the report, they are to —
Assess their culture and its governance
Identify any problems with that culture and governance
Deal with those problems
Determine whether the changes they have made have been effective
Our team has developed a model for that called the Head and Heart of Change. The model outlines three major steps that will ensure any culture change initiative can be led and sustained.
Download our model here: Change Management Principles: How to Lead Change and Make It Stick
3. KPIs Need to Change
With the gross misconduct being practised across the financial services industry, it is clear that the current KPIs they choose to follow are the wrong ones, reinforcing bad behaviour and poor customer service. They are serving their own pockets instead of serving in the best interest of clients.
The impact is not just on clients. Employees, too, are affected by this. Personal KPIs for banking staff, for example, are focused on reaching sales targets. They are evaluated and rewarded solely for these KPIs.
These need to be broader than financial and quality. Discussion around that is needed. This will affect KPIs organisation-wide, and the cascading of KPIs will become critical.
4. Tone from the Top: It Starts with You
The primary responsibility of misconduct in the financial service industry lies with the entities concerned, their boards, and their senior management, the Commissioner’s final report reveals.
They are directly responsible for articulating a compelling vision, setting the organisation’s core values, and sustaining the organisation’s culture. They must lead the way towards ethical change. The implications of this will be felt organisation-wide.
5. Not Just for the Financial Sector
Reading this as “only relevant to financial services” is naive. It will hit the other sectors that are likely to face a royal commission (aged care, energy, etc.). And the costs of noncompliance, as we’ve just seen with aged care and financial services, far outweighs the costs of compliance.
For any company that believes the movement of “responsible business” will grow, it shouldn’t be seen as compliance but as an opportunity to improve as this will enable organisations to establish integrity and loyalty amongst employees and customers alike, assuring them that they are safe. By embracing a culture of ethics, organisations will maintain a competitive differentiator in their industries.
Customer Focus Is Always Right
The move towards becoming a genuine customer-centric organisation is complex and challenging. But organisations shouldn’t be discouraged by this. That level of commitment to serve customers can lead to an increase in revenue and lifetime customer value.
In fact, data from Deloitte and Touche found that customer-centric organisations are 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not focused on the customer. Customer-centricity is good for business. Not only does it inspire loyalty and trust, it also drives revenue to the business.