Financial Services Blog

In the Financial Services industry, the view on corporate culture and ethics is moving beyond the old “do no harm” maxim.

Why? Because when financial firms embed a culture aligned to the business’s core values, and when they weave ethical values and customer centricity into the fabric of their organization’s DNA, they are building critical elements to protecting reputation and long-term business sustainability.

Accenture’s research shows organizations are increasing investment in corporate diversity and citizenship, and are taking more public stances on social and political issues, due to shifts in both employee and customer expectations, as well as a desire to build reputation. Also, given recent industry headlines regarding sales practices, fraud, and workplace misconduct, we are seeing regulators and customers sharpen their focus on the implicit and explicit norms at an organization, noting how a financial firm can encourage proper employee conduct, manage risk taking behaviors and deliver customer-centric outcomes.

How can firms establish an ethical, customer-centric corporate culture?

Culture embedding occurs throughout the employee lifecycle and is the cumulative result of multiple targeted changes. Taking time to strategically communicate and demonstrate the desired culture in each phase of the employee lifecycle can ultimately bring sustainable change, one employee at a time.

This blog series will explore several facets of culture embedding. Here, we’ll discuss the first of three key opportunities within the Recruitment and Onboarding phases of the employee lifecycle to properly screen and socialize the desired culture and behaviors for new employees. In a follow-up post, we’ll take a look at the second and third opportunities.


Screen and select for your desired values and culture

Employees begin their assessment and understanding of an organization’s values and culture long before they start work. While core values are often included on the company website and in job postings, culture—the organization’s way of thinking, behaving and working—can be demonstrated throughout recruiting and hiring processes, serving as a screening mechanism to attract the right employees. How can this be done?

  • Define role-based risk management requirements: Expected standards for risk and conduct management can be embedded in the job description, driving alignment across Human Resource (HR), hiring managers and candidates. While this practice requires some work up front to identify a set of responsibilities and map those to roles, HR can own the Role/Requirements matrix going forward and embed this into all job descriptions over time.
  • Prepare for the interview: Interviewers should review core values and be able to articulate desired on-the-job conduct with stories that showcase how colleagues’ conduct and the organization’s culture align back to the core values.
  • Perform due diligence: Business leaders should engage partners in the HR, Risk and Compliance functions to perform enhanced due diligence and screening for roles involving higher reputational risk exposures, including senior leadership positions and significant risk-taker positions (i.e., financial advisors, senior product strategists). These roles are critical in setting the tone from the top and for alignment with core organizational principles.
  • Ask conduct-based questions: Screening and interview questions should require potential employees to reflect the desired culture. For example, ask scenario-based questions that require the prospect to demonstrate integrity or show how they would take measured risks. While not foolproof, this step can offer insight into how a potential hire behaves, while reinforcing to the applicant the importance of the values.
  • Acknowledge recent conduct failures: Rather than ignore or gloss over past challenges, organizations with recent conduct failures should highlight the issues candidly. By recognizing past lapses and articulating desired conduct, these firms have a unique opportunity to use the hiring process to screen for and build a new culture of good behavior.

By beginning to embed the organization’s culture as early as the candidate screening process, financial firms both embrace good behaviors and illustrate them to incoming talent.

What happens once a new hire has joined the business? The next post will talk about how to build the right behaviors, early and continuously.

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