15 April 2013

Integrity is expected of bankers.  The experience of the financial crisis is that many have not met expectations.  Britain’s banking regulator has imposed a fit and proper person requirement for some banking functions. There is a suggestion that the regulator may not be modeling the standards it sets for the sector.

It appears that most who sit the test, can meet the standard – they have the competence, financial soundness and integrity required.  Last year 24,319 candidates qualified – four failed.  Which suggests it may not be too much of a challenge.  The regulator will not specify what the standards are but indicated that candidates thought unlikely to pass are encouraged to withdraw.

Critics are not impressed.  An Opposition MP on the Treasury Select Committee is concerned about the United Kingdom’s “…cultural problem that has brought banking to its knees and cost the taxpayers a fortune and these people continue as if it’s business as usual. It’s about time that regulators got real about the problems in banking and I see no signs of that happening…”

The Edelman international survey this year placed bankers near the bottom of its trust barometer of occupations at 49%, only financial services scored less.  The picture is worse in Britain where the Which survey finding is that 71% of respondents believe that there has been no improvement in the general banking culture.  New Zealanders however appear to have substantially more confidence in bankers.  The UMR Mood of the Nation ranking of occupations indicates that 51% have a great deal of trust in Banks, more than the Courts at 47%, and Public Service at 38%.  New Zealanders have the least trust in the Church and Organised religion and by a substantial margin, the highest numbers saying they have only ‘some or very little confidence’ in the Church.

Confidence levels presumably are much worse among Cypriots where despite the Eurozone Deposit Guarantee Scheme protecting deposits up to €100,000, banks in Cyprus will deduct a levy from all deposits. And sums over that may face deductions of up to 40%.

Integrity involves doing what you say you will do, and telling those who depend on your word, when you are not able to do what you say.  That’s why people with integrity can be trusted. The problem with banks was that they said they were competent, reliable, honest  and ethical. But they didn’t tell their customers when they acted differently.

http://umr.co.nz/sites/umr/files/umr_mood_of_the_nation_2013_online_0.pdf  page 28