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Blog series – James Bardrick

In advance of our event at the Bank of England on 21 March 2017, we asked interested parties to write on the theme: Worthy of trust? Law, ethics and culture in banking…

Trust has been lost across many stakeholders’ relationships post financial crisis across the banking industry, at Citi and in many large corporations in other sectors. All stakeholders’ relationships must be sustainable, valuable and productive and be based on trust, not just reliant on formal contracts. However, we cannot demand to be trusted or even deem ourselves trustworthy, we have to earn it in the eyes of others. You can call that developing a good reputation!

We need to communicate clearly, consistently and authentically what we are doing and why and how we do it, to all our stakeholders internally and externally; we must link the why, what and how to our Purpose and Values.

Citi’s mission is to serve as a trusted partner to our clients and to enable growth and economic progress. Our mission requires us to serve all our key stakeholders; our clients AND economies and markets, regulators, past, present and future employees, governments and all in society who are participants in, and impacted by the financial eco systems. Our Purpose is to safeguard our client’s assets, lend money, make and receive payments, access capital markets for clients to manage risk and raise capital, and more generally to connect investors with companies, governments and citizens to enable their individual and collective economic progress. That is the what.

The how focuses on the transparency of our purpose, striving to perform safely, reliably and effectively to deliver our obligations, commitments and our responsibilities and be true to our Purpose and Values to work for better outcomes.

To hold us true to our Purpose and Values: Responsible Finance, Shared Purpose, Ingenuity and Leadership, for every important business decision that we make, we ask our colleagues to ensure that their decisions pass three tests:

  • Is it in our client’s interest?
  • Does it create economic value?
  • And is it always systematically responsible?

Moreover, we encourage all of our individual and team objectives to be aligned to and measured against our six Leadership Standards:

  • Develops our people
  • Drives value for clients
  • Delivers results
  • Champions progress
  • Works as a partner
  • Lives our values

We are committed to go ‘Beyond Compliance’, to incentivise and reward good behaviours, client value, innovation, citizenship and to create good outcomes as well as just preventing bad stuff. We are becoming a simpler, safer and stronger organisation. To help us do that, we must embed, practice, measure and reward people consistently based on this culture change framework. We must and do ask our stakeholders to give us honest external assessment to ensure we are on track.

I know that trust will be at the front of our thinking and actions in our on-going efforts to serve as a trustworthy partner to all of our stakeholders in the pursuit of much improved reputations.

James Bardrick, Head of Citi UK

Senior Managers and Certification Regime

Exploring how the SMCR - and especially Certification - can be implemented in the most effective way across the sector.

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime is a major regulatory change that will affect all banks and building societies. Responding to recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the government and regulators have together developed a comprehensive framework to ensure better accountability and responsibility for behaviour, competence and culture in banks and building societies. The new framework provides an opportunity for the industry to focus on and demonstrate a culture of professionalism. We are working with firms and regulators to facilitate this, including areas where a common approach across firms could support both the objectives of the regime and the skills and development of the people covered by it.

Professionalism

Evaluating whether a more 'professional' approach to banking would improve behaviour and competence across the industry.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards found that 'banking culture has all too often been characterised by an absence of any sense of collective responsibility to uphold the reputation of the industry', and argued that a greater focus on professionalism could be an answer to this. Working with a leading team at the University of Leeds, we are researching the issues around professionalism in banking. In particular, we are reviewing how professional qualifications are currently used across the sector, and at whether a stronger role for professional bodies, along the lines seen in some other sectors, like medicine or law, would help raise standards. To inform this work and develop a rounded picture of 'professionalism' and what it means in banking, we are surveying banks and building societies, professional bodies and a wide range of other interested groups, including consumer bodies and investors.

Assessments

Providing an honest and impartial assessment to Boards of progress against objectives on behaviour, competence and culture.

The BSB assessment exercise presents Boards with an objective and impartial view of their firm's culture, identifying where things are working well and recommending areas for improvement. It draws on information not only from Boards and senior teams, but also from employees, investors (or members), trade unions, customer groups and other relevant bodies. In doing so, it will provide constructive challenge to each firm individually, while building a collective understanding of common issues across the industry, or sectors within it. We undertook our first annual assessment exercise in 2015 with ten firms (Barclays, Citi, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Metro Bank, Morgan Stanley International, Nationwide, RBS, Santander UK and Standard Chartered). The BSB itself will not publish individual assessment reports - each firm owns its own report - but key themes and messages will be set out in the BSB's annual report, the first of which will be published in Spring 2016. Given that Board engagement is central to the assessment work, only firms that have their headquarters in the UK are eligible for the full assessment exercise. All firms, including branches of firms headquartered overseas, will however be included in a focused membership-wide survey, which will allow each participating firm to benchmark itself against its peer group.

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