The banking and financial services sector has been focused on refreshing its operating environment. Sector leadership has come to realise that organisational culture does not just impact talent attraction and retention, but that it is intrinsically linked to the performance and growth of their organisation.
In the 2018 Irish Banking Culture Board’s Employee survey, three in four respondents said that their organisation’s purpose and values were important to them. This was reinforced by the 2019 Behaviour and Culture Report by the Central Bank of Ireland who also noted that culture not only impacts internal dynamics but directly impacts a bank’s customer base too. To truly benefit from a cultural change those in leadership within Financial Services need to recognise the need for employee feedback, review and reprioritise current initiatives, and search for data-based methods to measure behavioural change.
With a need for change comes a need to act. The challenges faced in financial services have not been for their lack of action, it is more the impact of the actions they take to address purpose and culture.
Firstly, we often design solutions for our employees without one critical input: the feedback of our employees. Doing so drives further disengagement within the workplace. After all, what is a purpose if not co-created by those who live it every day?
Secondly, as financial services organisations design initiatives, they can often get lost in the many rather than focusing on the few. Often when we review culture and purpose programmes, the immediate reaction is to create further new initiatives and incentives, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to any improvement.
It was Michael Porter who said ‘“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do”. Nevertheless, it is often the case that leaders can be unaware of the many initiatives they have underway and the collective impact they have on an organisation. The good news for leadership in Banking and Financial Services is that there has been an effort made to create a solid foundation to positively shape and impact the purpose and culture of their organisation. The building blocks are there, it is a matter of bringing them together in an informed way.
At EY, we believe there are three focus areas Leaders should consider for them to better strategise their purpose and culture agendas:
To reap the rewards of investing in culture and purpose, financial services organisations need to see their leaders challenge the norms and re-prioritise their initiatives in real-time based on data insights. Only then can they truly transform.
This article was written by Jackie Gilmore and Mary-Kate Portley as part of our NextWave banking series. Explore our NextWave Banking hub which houses our latest views on the decisions banks are facing in order to shape their digital future. In the coming weeks, we will be further exploring these challenges and the associated strategic options and emerging trends. Watch this space, and reach out if you have any questions.