There is hope in a long-term commitment to culture change

Sunday 17 February, 2019
by Jodi O'Callaghan
By Jodi O'Callaghan, Executive Officer, The BFO.
As the financial services industry braces for the release of the Final Report from the Hayne Royal Commission, one thing is certain: the financial services industry in Australia will never be the same.

As the financial services industry braces for the release of the Final Report from the Hayne Royal Commission, one thing is certain: the financial services industry in Australia will never be the same.

Systems will be overhauled, processes reviewed, and remuneration practices will no doubt take a hit. There is also the potential for criminal charges to be laid against those found guilty of significant wrongdoing. It has been speculated that industry leaders around the country could be required to implement the majority of – if not all – Commissioner Hayne’s recommendations, depending on how many of those recommendations the government accepts.

But what does that mean for the individuals who work in these organisations? Aside from bringing in the changes to systems and processes, how will financial institutions of all sizes reshape their culture to ensure their people always have the customer front of mind, have empathy for those customers, and are empowered to call out wrongdoing? How will individuals come to feel safe to make mistakes, knowing it’s ok to take responsibility and work to fix them? We are after all, imperfect human beings who inevitably make mistakes. When the mistakes can be acknowledged and rectified, that’s ok. When they’re acknowledged, ignored and continue - or worse - acknowledged and somebody ‘disappears’ from the organisation, and the bad practices continue, that is not ok.

In his interim report, Commissioner Hayne said, “Too often, the answer seems to be greed – the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty.”

The result of this Royal Commission should not just be a short-term investment to ‘fixing’ the issues, but rather a long-term commitment to improving basic standards of honesty - integrity, accountability, ethics and building trustworthiness – a long-term commitment to culture change.

If you work in financial services and feel overwhelmed by what this might mean for you in your career and more specifically in your workplace, I’m here to assure you there is hope. YOU have the power to take things in to your own hands… right now. You are part of the solution. You can drive positive change in the industry that you have chosen to build your career in.

It’s the right thing to do if you're an individual that believes trust should be the foundation of your profession and you:

  • accept responsibility for your own actions
  • act with integrity
  • are willing to speak out about wrongdoing and support others to do the same
  • want to create a fair and just society.

There is power in numbers. The more people in an organisation who have the tools to reflect on their decisions and the impact they have on their customers, who can think critically and exercise their ethical muscles, the more likely they are to build a culture that speaks to and empowers individual responsibility for upholding ethical behaviour.

One such tool for this type of reflection is The Banking and Finance Oath. If you’re passionate about being part of the solution and driving positive culture change in your organisation and in your industry, I implore you to consider taking the Oath at this unprecedented time for financial services. You can find out more at


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The Oath

  • 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 help 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.

The Vision

A banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence thereby fulfilling its integral role in society.