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'It won't happen overnight': Launch of new body to improve culture in Irish banks

The board is funded by the five pillar banks and chaired by a retired Court of Appeal judge.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

A NEW BODY which will work to improve the culture of the Irish banking sector has launched today.

The board is funded by five Irish retail banks – AIB, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank Ireland, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank.

The Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) will be required to publish regular summary reports to measure progress.

It will be chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice John Hedigan. Other members of the board are:

  • Marion Kelly, acting CEO of the IBCB
  • Angela Black, chief executive, Citizens Information Board
  • Professor Blanaid Clarke, McCann FitzGerald Chair in Corporate Law at Trinity College Dublin
  • Dara Deering, executive director and head of retail banking, KBC Bank Ireland
  • Jane Howard, CEO, Ulster Bank
  • Padraic Kissane, financial adviser 
  • Ger Mitchell, group HR director, Permanent TSB
  • Robert Mulhall, managing director, AIB Consumer Banking
  • Vincent Mulvey, group chief risk officer, Bank of Ireland Group
  • Gareth Murphy, acting general secretary, Financial Services Union
  • Philip O’Leary, managing partner, head of commercial department, FitzGerald Legal & Advisory
  • Sue O’Neill, chair of the Small Firms Association (SFA) and managing director of Shellcove (AMC)
  • Martin Stapleton, chair of the Farm Business Committee, Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA)

The Central Bank of Ireland’s director general financial conduct, Derville Rowland, today said the establishment of the IBCB was a welcome step on the roads towards building a consumer focused culture in retain banking.

However she said it was “not a substitute for effective regulation, assertive supervision and robust enforcement”.

The decision to establish this new body came after the full scale of the tracker mortgage overcharging scandal emerged. The Central Bank assessed the behaviour and culture of the pillar banks after the scandal and found that while all five had taken steps to reinforce the consideration of the consumer interest, some had “a distance to travel”.

The Central Bank has said this remains the case today. 

“I would like to be able to tell you that all the banks addressed the questions we raised and that they passed that test with flying colours. But in reality, it was a mixed picture,” Rowland said.

While some plans were better than others, only one bank submitted a truly considered, comprehensive plan. We have given the banks our feedback. Now they must take it on board and address those shortcomings.

Today the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB) said it aims to rebuild trust in the sector and promote fair customer outcomes. 

“Following a loss of trust in the banking sector, rebuilding wider society’s confidence in the industry will not happen overnight; it will take time, courage and commitment,” said IBCB chair Mr Justice Hedigan. 

“That journey begins in earnest today, informed by the voices of bank staff, customers and stakeholders from across Irish society.”

He said the composition of the board was based on feedback from the public consultation. He said it was important the banking sector should be represented on the board by people in senior positions as they can influence companywide decisions. 

However he said the body was also mindful that the board “needed to represent independent voices, including the voice of the public”. 

Acting CEO Marion Kelly said the public feedback in the consultation “makes sobering reading” but it was necessary for the sector to listen to these views.

“Through the consultation we have identified a role for the IBCB to help banks be more transparent, and to benchmark their progress in changing the way they conduct themselves for the good of their staff and the people and communities they serve,” she said.

“Each of the five founding member banks has its own internal culture change programme underway and progress is being made. However, the bank employee culture survey shows that more work is required to create an open environment where staff feel comfortable to raise concerns, where concerns are listened to and where staff’s sense of well-being is a key focus.”

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