Creating cultures for commitment: The new business of banking
Dr. Colin Benjamin OAM, FAICD, MAASW, an internationally-recognised Australian polymath and futurist, is the author of ColourGrid®. Based on 40 years of advanced neuroscience research, Gooroo ColourGrid® helps us understand how we make up our minds. As the Scientific Advisor and Global Futurist at Gooroo, Dr. Benjamin is working to integrate the ColourGrid® toolkit into Gooroo technology.
Now that the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry has heard its last hapless witness to corporate emphasis on shareholder returns at the expense of good governance, disruption and innovation are the new externalities.
In banks around the world, senior managers and board members are engaged in a mental fog trying to establish a vision that accepts that ‘customer first’ is not just a mantra but a condition of their future direction.
Transformation replaces transactions as the criterion for corporate promotion across every financial institution. Bank staff are huddled into groupthink clusters to discuss what has been exposed in the US, UK, Europe and now Australia.
Clients, customers and communities of interest are the new conundrum for each of the C-suite executives who are seeing the end of their bonus bonanza based on trailing commissions, rigged remuneration deals and a revolving door between banking and corporate-regulated career paths to unjustifiable greed.
For example, more than 400 managing directors in Germany were forced to take part in a two-day culture workshop conducted by the Institut der deutschland Wirtschaft Köln.
Worldwide more than 6500 employees of an investment bank participated in seminars and intensively explored ways to deal with critical situations and “grey” areas by applying the values and beliefs as a clear guideline and a measure of what is expected of each worker.
Heidrick and Struggles’ (appropriately named) financial services practice has released a report “Accelerating performance through culture change: Lessons from the banking industry”.
It says that almost everyone acknowledges that banks and financial services MUST change their culture if they are to regain the trust that they have lost over the past several years. The majority of banks are talking about culture change and some have tentatively embarked upon it.
In this context, Ken Henry’s statement that it may take ten years to make the necessary cultural change cannot be acceptable practice.
The royal commission in Australia confirms that the deeper problem arising from this nation’s record of good economic fortune has marked the necessity for new approaches to thinking about accountability, good behaviour and social responsibility beyond machine-generated average performance.
Unless the mechanistic dashboard management model of profitability and growth is mediated by strategic thinking and strategic management, it is inevitable that lending will be cut back, careers will become shorter term and new online financial transactions will erode the cautious interface of banks.
If their institutions do not reconstruct the bank of trust and understanding of multiple accountabilities beyond growth and corporate greed, over-negotiation, embedded auditors and myopic investment fund managers will disrupt the emergence of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.
All bank staff at all levels need to know they are encouraged to think from the customers’ perspective by naturally adjusting their business models, developing team leadership roles, exercising thought leadership and listening to the voice of their clients.
The development of listening and inquiring skills — eliminating hundreds of intra-bank messages, meetings requiring minutes and working hours and decision avoidance measures — is not a change in management process rather than a genuine effort at culture change.
Application of Gooroo’s cultural thinking alignment process focuses on the future voices, missions, goals and objectives to reset shared values and a sense of purpose and self-respect. This requires an independent diagnosis, team reconstruction and company-made focus on employee, executive and consumer satisfaction.