Financial Services Union Urges Further Action on Changing the Culture of Banking

24 July 2018

The Financial Services Union today urged the Government and the Central Bank to take further action to radically change the culture in banking.

Responding to the publication by the Central Bank of Behaviour and Culture of the Irish Retail Banks report, FSU General Secretary, Dermot Ryan, said:

“Changing culture in banking is a priority for the sector.  For too long staff and customers have paid the price for the short-term, insular thinking that has dominated the top levels of banking in Ireland. 

“Our union would have preferred to see this report go much further, and be more forthright about the problems that exist.  We are also disappointed that the voice of frontline staff hasn’t been given enough weight. 

“However, even with these shortcomings, this review may mark the beginning of a sustained attempt to change how banks operate.  As a Union we are prepared to engage with the Central Bank and other stakeholders on how this process can deliver for customers, staff and the communities they serve into the future.

“In particular we are prepared to work with the Central Bank to ensure that the proposed conduct standards for all individuals in the sector are proportionate.  The Report clearly identifies the senior executive levels in banking as being responsible for the weakness in banking culture.  Any new conduct standards have to support frontline staff, particularly when they have concerns about failings emanating from senior executive level.”

Outlining some of the positive changes in the sector that the Union wants to see Dermot Ryan said:

“To be meaningful, any change in culture has to have tangible benefits for staff and customers.  We support moves to impose higher standards of transparency and accountability on senior bank management. 

“In addition, we need to see the sector commit to providing access to financial services and to experienced, expert staff in communities across Ireland, especially in rural Ireland.  Closing branches and reducing counter services are real evidence of the short-term thinking at the top that impacts on both staff and customers.”

“We also need to see banks treating their staff with respect and valuing their immense contribution in recent years.  That needs to be reflected in pay strategy and restoring benefits temporarily removed during the banking crisis for example.  Importantly, the central role that bank staff will play in a sector experiencing significant technological change must be a priority for the board and senior management of every bank operating in Ireland.  We will work constructively with any employer that values staff as an asset and is serious about providing rewarding careers in a changing sector.”