By Jodi O'Callaghan, Executive Officer, The BFO: 'Trust is the foundation of my profession'. These are the powerful opening words of The Banking and Finance Oath (The BFO) and for finance professionals, they're words you want to be able to say with pride. But how do those words translate when trust is top of mind for customers, given some of the abhorrent cases being revealed in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
By Jodi O'Callaghan, Executive Officer, The BFO
Trust is the foundation of my profession.’ These are the powerful opening words of The Banking and Finance Oath (The BFO) and for finance professionals, they’re words you want to be able to say with pride. But how do those words translate when trust is top of mind for customers, given some of the abhorrent cases being revealed in the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
ASIC’s MoneySmart website defines a finance broker’s role as one that negotiates with banks, credit unions and other credit providers on behalf of a customer to arrange loans. When a customer places their trust in you – the broker – to liaise with a bank or other lender on their behalf, it’s a pretty big responsibility.
Having recently refinanced our home loan, I was fortunate to experience a mortgage broker that took pride in being independent, and who wanted to find the best rate for my family’s personal circumstances. With two children under five, the slowing of the Sydney property market, and dreams of buying a bigger home in the not-too-distant future, I really valued this. I quickly trusted our broker would look after us – not for his own gain, but because he had taken the time to understand our circumstances and goals and wanted to see us kick them!
Trust is an intangible concept. If you have to tell people they can trust you, you’re probably yet to demonstrate the reasons why they should trust you. Brands with an authentic voice, a clear purpose, vision and values are more likely to be considered trustworthy. At an individual level, a personal brand that speaks to integrity, honesty and acting in the customer’s best interest will go a long way towards building trust.
Go to any bank or credit lending website and you’ll quickly be able to find what they stand for. Most of them will say they have a focus on the customer, some will speak to what they do in the sustainability and social responsibility space, and some will introduce their people. These stories of people and putting a face to a (brand) name is so important for me. I’m more likely to engage with a brand that wants to tell the stories of their people. It makes me believe in the inherent good of those working in financial services, and our society needs an ethical and trustworthy banking and finance system to function well.
As a broker, there is a multi-dimensional bond between you, the bank and the customer. The customer is choosing to put their trust in you, the intermediary, rather than directly with the bank or credit lender. This is your strength. Taking The Banking and Finance Oath is a voluntary commitment to act with integrity, speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same, and be responsible for their actions, particularly when things go wrong.
The BFO is not making anyone do the right thing, most people want to; rather, it helps prevent unthinking practices and creates a common language around ethical behaviour. The BFO’s vision is, simply, for “A banking and finance industry that meets the community’s needs and has its full confidence”.
In a speech at an annual Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) dinner recently, the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Phil Lowe said "Finance is all about trust. When a deposit is placed in a bank, we trust it will be repaid. We also trust financial institutions to invest our hard-earned savings for us. And we trust them to provide us with sound advice. Without this trust, the financial system cannot operate properly and the economy cannot prosper. As the first line of the Banking and Finance Oath says: ‘Trust is the foundation of my profession’. I encourage everybody in the finance sector to read this oath regularly and to live by it."
If you believe in the power of the individual, and the role you can play in helping to build trust in your industry, I encourage you to take the Oath. Find out more at www.thebfo.org
Read the article as it appears in the February issue of Broker Magazine.