The trade body put ‘Ethics in Banking and Finance’ together in partnership with law firm Linklaters.
While the guide is designed mainly for boards, non-executive directors and senior managers, the trade body believes it can be applied to all businesses within the finance sector.
It includes navigational aids for those working in or advising businesses in banking or the wider financial sector and is built around four themes:
- Leadership, governance, systems and controls
- Customers and conduct of business
- Stakeholders, including shareholders, regulators and the wider community
Am I acting with integrity?
For example, in the governance section it includes the suggestion of a “well-written code of ethics” which can provide a framework which culture and conduct can be assessed against.
It also outlines a host of sources of management information which can be used to establish how well a business is meeting that code, such as appraisals and exit interviews, employee feedback surveys, and board self-evaluation.
On product design it includes the case study of Royal Bank of Scotland’s YES check, a series of five questions that guide its actions which include ‘Would customers and colleagues say I am acting with integrity?’ and ‘Am I happy with how this would be perceived on the outside?’
Relevant for all businesses
Stephen Jones, chief executive officer at UK Finance, said the way a business generates its profits and dividends are as important as the size of those returns.
He continued: “Good conduct, culture and ethical behaviours are at the core of sustainable, long term performance. While relevant for all types of business, these factors are particularly critical for the healthy operation of businesses in banking and finance.”
Julia Dixon, financial regulation partner at Linklaters, added that the issue of whether a firm is operating according to ethical values is “squarely in the spotlight” and warned that firms depend on customers and stakeholders being satisfied that they are conducting themselves properly.
“Building trust through an ethical framework and responsible business outlook is critical to sustainable success as well as to avoiding costly crises,” she concluded.