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Real progress with a year of professional qualifications

by Lewis Panther | 04 Jun 2019

Real progress to restoring trust but still a long way to go, international expert says.

Bankers are making “real progress” towards restoring trust a year on from FINSIA’s launch of new professional qualifications, international training and education expert Ian Hardcastle says.

But the Chair of the Learning and Development Board at the Chartered Banker Institute, one of the oldest institutes in the world, admitted there is still a long way to go in the Post Royal Commission era.

As the first candidates on our Chartered Banker by Experience course get close to graduating with this gold standard, FINSIA sat down with Ian after he spent 8 days travelling around Australia carrying out the final interviews with senior executives on the program.

Hardcastle said: “I’ve noticed a tremendous difference. I’ve had the opportunity to speak to a number of banking executives in the industry as part of the Chartered Banker by Experience program.

“I’ve also reconnected with the team at FINSIA to get a feel for some of the initiatives that we talked about back in 2018. 

“I can see real progress. I think the landscape post Royal Commission has certainly changed for banks.

“The sort of cycle that you guys are seeing at the moment is fairly predictable. I think banks are taking the opportunity to tighten the regulatory policies and their approach to customer outcomes. 

“The market place is extremely challenging. Bankers are certainly under the microscope and the findings of the Royal Commission are quite challenging - in terms of the ability to undertake business with new and existing customers. 

“So for me it's the same challenges that we have seen in the UK. 

“But I think the response has been positive.

“FINSIA is making really good strides in terms of connecting and engaging with the banking community both through engaging events, social media and through the regional council network - and I can definitely see movement in a number of the educational programs as well. There are more and more people coming through the system. 

“I have been watching the progress of FINSIA over the course of the last year and that's really insightful in terms of some of the stories and the evidence around examples of great ethical practice in the industry.

“So I would say I am really encouraged by what I have seen in a relatively short space of time"

“What I've heard when speaking to the Chartered Banker by Experience candidates is a real freshness and desire to want to change despite being subject to significant stakeholder pressure to provide great customer outcomes and deliver financial strength. 

“But I can sense that the Australian market, which I think is incredibly important to the economy, is relying on the senior banking community to continue to demonstrate a fantastic attitude and demonstrate a desire to lead by example.

“They have big spheres of influence. So their actions and the way they role model will be incredibly important in terms of engaging their colleagues and teams within financial services. 

“I've seen a real desire and high level of enthusiasm to change. 

“By giving them time to reflect on their own careers and really think about ethical decision-making for customers, I’m hoping that this approach and change in behaviour will feed through into the bigger employee communities.”

Tackling the question of how to rebuild trust in the sector in more detail, Hardcastle acknowledged: “It's an incredibly difficult challenge.

“Banks in the UK haven't quite completed that yet and it’s 10 years after the global financial crisis. Australia is no different.

“Some of the findings of the Royal Commission are bitter pills to swallow, particularly in terms of evidence of mis practice and some of the examples of customer impact. 

“Banks need to demonstrate that they are connecting with their communities and customers and building a real understanding of customer needs.

“A key part of that is really demonstrating that building capability and staff attitude and behaviour is important. 

“For me, the Chartered Banker programs give the banking organisations a really excellent opportunity to demonstrate their employees are achieving globally recognised standards.”

The key to taking those first steps is showing colleagues  - and the public - that bankers can reach the very highest levels of competency. Hence the importance of programmes such as the Chartered Banker by Experience programme, he says.

“The essence of the program is to really recognise the individual's level of experience as well their contribution to banking and the respected professional community,” he explained. 

“The Chartered Banker program itself is really intensive and challenging it focuses on a number of key aspects for banking.

“Core disciplines such as credit risk, personal private banking and strategy operations, digital and strategic risk management are covered. It’s quite a broad ranging but absolutely relevant qualification for banking professionals .

“The key difference with the Chartered Banker by Experience program is that it actually allows assessors such as myself to us to really engage with candidates and to talk about their experience over the last five to ten years. 

“As an assessor, what I'm looking to do is really trying to understand what that level of experience is from the individual and to align that experience and reflection against the levels of competency required to achieve Chartered status.”

Worldwide there are more than 100 candidates studying different pathways towards the Chartered Banker qualification and the “feedback has been really positive,” according to Hardcastle.

“What I've seen from the people I've engaged with here and in the UK, is a real honesty and an openness around the size of the industry challenge, and it's not an easy challenge for any of us. 

“We are 10 years post the global financial crisis and the work still isn't complete in my view. There is an ongoing challenge around macro economic influences in the banking market, which continue to heavily influence decision making. 

“The key is to focus on the customer and develop channels and propositions that allow banks to serve customers in the best possible way.

“So creating competitive advantage is really significant and important for banks within the industry going forward. 

“Most organisations have two choices, that they can either drive that competitor advantage through the digitization of channels that are aligned to customer needs and desires and outcomes, or they can focus on building compelling relationships with customer through engaged and capable employees, and start to build trust through relationship building. 

“Many banks will choose both options and for me this is why it is critical that the banks make the right decisions when looking at options to building capability, promote ethical decision making and ultimately change and embed the right customer focused behaviours within their teams.”

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