Frequently asked questions
Why does the banking and finance industry need an oath?
The banking and finance industry is considered an essential component of a civilised society, fulfilling functions that matter to our daily lives.
It is therefore essential that the industry be trusted and deemed to be trustworthy and that the people within it respect the position of trust which society affords them.
The BFO is designed to highlight the founding moral and ethical principles of the industry and remind individuals of their broader commitment to society now and in the future.
Am I joining something?
Yes, you are becoming a signatory to the Oath of an organisation – The Banking and Finance Oath Limited. By becoming a signatory, you agree to adhere to the Oath of the organisation. You commit to principles that you agree will shape your behaviour and decisions as you go about your work in the banking and finance industry. We hope the principles of The BFO will afford some benefit to you and in turn your actions will benefit the banking and finance industry and society more broadly.
Can this really achieve anything?
We believe it can. Personal commitments can form a strong basis for consistent and considered decisions and action.
Is this just a marketing campaign?
No. The individuals who have been involved in the development of The BFO are personally committed to the initiative and to high ethical standards in the banking and finance industry. Their involvement is on a personal rather than organisational basis in accordance with the intent of The BFO.
Why wasn't my company represented on the Banking and Finance Ethics Panel that developed The BFO?
The Board was established by those individuals who were interested and willing to be part of ethics-focused initiatives for the banking and finance industry. Clare Payne, in her role as Consulting Fellow for Ethics in Banking and Finance of The Ethics Centre, wrote to CEOs, Chairs and board members of retail and investment banks operating in Australia. Following individual meetings with many of the leaders of the industry where they discussed the current state of the industry and the need for initiatives focused on ethics, Clare wrote a report outlining a series of initiatives that might be undertaken. As a result of the meetings and the report, the Banking and Finance Ethics Panel was established.
Will the oath apply to me as well as my employer?
The oath is a personal commitment and is not binding on the institution in which the signatories are employed.
How will signatories' commitments be enforced?
The behaviour of BFO signatories will not be actively monitored. However if unethical behaviour or behaviour outside the spirit and intent of The BFO occurs, we encourage individuals to reach out to The BFO for a confidential conversation.
If someone signs up and then acts unethically, doesn't it make a mockery of The BFO?
The behaviour of BFO signatories will not be actively monitored. However if unethical behaviour or behaviour outside the spirit and intent of The BFO comes to the attention of the Board, a regulator or other respected authority, The BFO is happy to facilitate a confidential discussion on what options there are to address a situation.
Does The BFO have value if the standards aren’t upheld?
The value of such an initiative is created by the individuals who commit and their adherence to the spirit and intent of The BFO.
Does The BFO engage with customers?
The vision of The Banking and Finance Oath is for a banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence. Considering and understanding the customer is central to achieving this vision.
We are guided by the following principles in relation to the customer:
· We consider the position of the customer when inquiring and responding to ethical issues.
· We engage consumer groups and representatives to contribute to forums and commentary.
· We encourage our signatories to bring customers to our events and forums.
· We offer a minimum of 5 tickets to customers at our events.