Challenge

The BSB was born after the financial crisis, which damaged public trust in the banking sector.

Our work therefore focuses on trustworthiness. Trust is given to a firm by customers and others who engage with it; but only the firm itself can determine that it is worthy of trust.

Our members are committed to understanding the incentives, culture and other influences of conduct that together determine trustworthiness.

Action

We worked with leading academics to develop an assessment framework to give our member firms useable and relevant information, so they can determine the extent to which they are achieving their goals in relation to culture, behaviour and competence. The assessment also gives us an evidence-based picture of the banking sector as a whole.

The assessment is built on a set of characteristics we would expect to be associated with good outcomes for customers, members, clients, employees, investors, the economy and society. These are honesty, respect, openness, accountability, competence, reliability, responsiveness, personal and organisational resilience, and shared purpose.  The BSB and the Business of Trust’s objectives are fundamentally aligned.  The five CIVIC principles are addressed and championed in all that the BSB do.

Each year, we assess member firms to find out how far they demonstrate these characteristics. This work is mainly based on the views of employees and give boards an impartial, evidence-based picture of the culture of their firm over time, across different business areas, and relative to other firms.

In 2018, the third year in which we ran the assessment, more than 72,000 employees shared their views, up from 36,000 in 2017. As we develop this work, we may also use other types of information to inform our analysis.

We also engage directly with consumers and launched a consultation in late 2017, to better understand what good outcomes look like to consumers. We received more than 80 responses and are in the process of considering the suggestions.

Impact

Each year, we issue an annual review that highlights our industry-wide findings. Three main themes emerged from our first assessment in 2016. These were:

  • the alignment between a firm’s values and the way it does business
  • creating a culture of responsibility and accountability, and
  • the personal resilience and wellbeing of employees.

These themes have shaped our priorities for our policy, assessment and broader programme of work.

Employee resilience and wellbeing emerged as a key concern, with just over one quarter of our respondents saying that working in their organisation had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing. Despite considerable focus on this issue within the sector and more widely, this proportion was unchanged in our 2017 assessment. As well as being the right thing for employers to do, a growing body of evidence shows that employee care is linked to better business outcomes.

The benefits include:

  • improved customer service,
  • lower employee turnover,
  • reduced costs, with fewer days lost to sick leave and long-term absence, and
  • improvements to individual performance and productivity more generally.

Over the past year, we have further explored employee wellbeing in banking through our assessment, additional roundtable discussions, knowledge-sharing events with member firms and engagement with leading experts and stakeholders.

We have also conducted a literature review on employee wellbeing, focusing on evidence relevant to banking and on issues such as the impact of workload on wellbeing, perceptions of job autonomy and control, relationships at work and the interface between home and work.

Many firms are already devoting significant resources to employee wellbeing. The question is whether these resources are being deployed effectively and addressing the causes of the problem, as well as the symptoms. As our newly formed BSB Insights team develops, it will look to test the impact of current approaches, to ensure resources are used most effectively.

Key lesson

Organisations of all kinds and in all sorts of sectors worry about whether they are trusted and, if not, what they can do to win or rebuild trust.

Trust can mean different things to different people. However, no matter how you define it, trust can only be generated from within organisations themselves.

While BSB member firms are committed to addressing the challenges involved in creating and maintaining a good organisational culture, these challenges are not unique to banking. This means that our objective and evidence-based approach to restoring trust in the banking sector can be echoed and developed in different industries and organisations.