In 2015, seven years after the global financial crisis began, the challenge of conduct and cultural change in financial services is entering a new phase.

Punitive costs don’t seem to be affecting behaviours. According to a major ratings agency the United Kingdom’s top four banks are likely to  face conduct charges and litigation totalling £19 billion ($28bn) by the end of 2016,1 in addition to the £42 billion paid between 2010 and 2014,2 not to mention the £100 billion we estimate they paid in change costs following conduct- and financial-crime regulation.3

Public confidence in Financial Services companies is desperately low. In the United Kingdom, only 39 percent of people say they trust financial services companies “to do what is right.”4 By contrast, the score for business in general is 52 percent.

Low public confidence appears to be impacting bank employees, and the industry’s ability to recruit top talent. Most banks define good conduct as delivering positive outcomes to their customers. Yet it would appear that less than a third of surveyed financial sector workers outside of senior management are proud to work in the sector.5 This in our view points to the possibility that the customer’s interest may not be placed front and centre. Indeed, under half of bank employees surveyed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) say they consider customers to be the bank’s primary external stakeholders.Aggravating matters, attracting the best talent is also an issue. The proportion of MBA graduates choosing a career in banking has halved to 10 percent since the crisis.7

What to do? The topic of good conduct in financial services used to be simpler than it is today.

  • In the 1990s, the agenda was focused on good “corporate governance.”
  • In the 2000s, this focus shifted towards transparency, stakeholder relations and “treating customers fairly.”
  • The early 2010s, in the aftermath of the crisis, saw banks and regulators revisit how best to manage “risk” (conduct risk, reputation risk, risk culture), as well as the specific conduct challenges of mis-selling and market manipulation.

Only recently has the real breadth of the challenge become clear.

As we enter 2016, the most pressing topics for change include: how to measure culture, develop personal accountability, improve product governance, encourage speaking up (whistleblowing), serve ‘vulnerable customers,’ manage complaints, control for conflicts of interest, monitor digital channels and social media and address persistent challenges related to market conduct.

As we work with industry leaders globally to apply our know-how to these challenges, we hope this blog will be a useful medium for sharing experiences.

I hope you enjoy it. Feel free to interact with our contributors, or contact me.


1”UK’s big four banks face extra £19bn in fines, analysts predict,” The Guardian, April 27, 2015. Access at:

2 Ibid.

3 Accenture estimate, December 2015

4 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer. Access at:

5“Perceptions of excessive reward and concern over short term cultures still prevailing within UK’s financial sector,” CIPD, June 6, 2013. Access at:

6 Ibid.

“Beyond Banking: under attack on all sides,” Financial Times, November 10, 2015. Access at:

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