A banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence thereby fulfilling its integral role in society.
The Banking and Finance Oath (The BFO) is a unique, independent organisation whose purpose is to improve our society by raising the moral and ethical standards of the banking and finance industry through the implementation of the Oath. The BFO was incubated at The Ethics Centre as an industry-led initiative and launched online in 2013.
On 1 March 2021 The BFO merged with The Ethics Centre so as to expand and enrich conversations within the banking and finance industry on ethical issues.
The BFO contributes to a better society, building trust and confidence in financial services by re-asserting the ethical foundation of the industry beyond regulation and compliance. The BFO contains a set of commitments that individuals working in financial services can choose to adopt and apply as personal principles in their work. Taking the Oath neither binds nor represents the views of those who employ signatories – it is a personal commitment by an individual. The BFO seeks to support a network of like-minded individuals that represent and uphold the principles of the Oath, by broadening expectations and discussion to include ethics, integrity, honesty and trust.
We hope that The BFO will resonate with all who work in the banking and finance industry and that they will be inspired to commit themselves to the intent and spirit of each element of The BFO. In turn we hope The BFO will lead to increased consideration of stakeholders and more accountability for decision-making across the industry and the improvement of the banking and finance industry.
The purpose of the BFO
The BFO seeks to re-assert the ethical foundations of the financial services industry by highlighting the importance of ethics, integrity, honesty and trust in the behaviour of individual industry participants. The BFO has two clear aims:
- to encourage a strong ethical framework for individuals in our financial services industry. The values of integrity, honesty and trust must underpin the industry’s dealings with the Australian community, and these values clearly need to be strengthened. The BFO is uniquely targeted at the behaviour of the individual and, building on that behaviour, can help to shape a positive culture within institutions themselves; and
2. to provide a public platform on which signatories have the opportunity to demonstrate their integrity and in turn their commitment to the industry. An oath needs to be public, ideally taken publicly but also visible beyond the act. This transparency encourages peer-to-peer accountability and allows the signatory to be held to account by all stakeholders. Two mechanisms are in place to ensure this:
(i) The BFO website lists all signatories and allows individuals to include their organisation; and
(ii) The BFO provides an insignia that individuals are encouraged to include on their email sign-off.
A number of programs have been developed to support The BFO signatories and these provide an opportunity to further promote a strong ethical framework. These include the Young Ambassador Program at the student and industry level, and an Elders program that provides a network for mentoring.
The BFO is also increasingly recognised as a thought leader, frequently receiving requests for comment on issues as they affect the industry. The BFO is a valuable initiative demonstrating global leadership by Australian finance professionals – the Dutch Banking Oath, a compulsory oath taken by some 90,000 Dutch bankers after the global financial crisis, has been modeled on The BFO and was introduced after discussions with The BFO Board.
View this short film where industry leaders talk more about the importance of ethics, integrity and trust.
The banking and finance Oath
The Oath contains a set of principles which people in the banking and finance industry can adopt in their work.
Trust is the foundation of my profession
- I will serve all interests in good faith
- I will compete with honour
- I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint
- I will create a sustainable future
- I will help create a more just society
- I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same
- I will accept responsibility for my actions
In these and all other matters;
My word is my bond.