Over the past decade at Expolink, we've seen a growing number of banks introducing 'whistleblowing' or 'speak up' arrangements for their employees For some, this has been a voluntary choice .
But for others, new rules introduced by the FCA in 2016 have been the real driving force. As a result, many have fast-tracked the introduction of a compliant speak up service at short notice.
In our experience, companies simply 'ticking the box' receive few (if any) speak up reports. And, as any compliance or legal team will know, silence is rarely a positive signal.
Effective speak up procedures help banks (and other organisations) identify serious conduct issues early on. This enables compliance and legal teams to investigate and tackle them internally before they become serious enough to attract the attention of regulators and the media.
As such, they must be at the centre – not the periphery – of a bank's culture, ethics and processes. This is supported by our research late last year into over 100 businesses (including leading financial services companies) using external speak up services.
Over the past year, 20% of respondents said it had successfully helped recover company assets following a whistleblowing report; 17% said reports had led to the business launching criminal proceedings; and 62% had improved their internal controls as a result of reports received.
As you might expect, a successful speak up service is dependent on several factors. Employee trust, effective promotion, the presence of a 'listen up' management culture and evidence that the company takes reports seriously can all have a major impact on reports.
Unfortunately, our research suggested that the critical role of managers is being overlooked, with only 17% of organisations training them how to handle a speak up report. The conduct of senior executives and middle management plays a major role in shaping employees' perceptions about the 'safety' of speaking up.
In an industry like banking – where long-established, traditional cultures often exist – nurturing openness and trust is especially important.
Information is often provided on condition of anonymity (for instance, two-thirds of people using our service chose to be anonymous to their employer in 2017). A clear commitment to respecting this wish is critical in building trust among employees in order for them to reveal crucial and otherwise hidden information.
Some of the UK's leading financial institutions are already setting the standard, treating their speak up programme as a key business asset – and reporting against it accordingly. This involves moving beyond simple reporting measures – such as 'number of speak up reports received' (a metric used by 51% of businesses surveyed) – to more sophisticated analysis of substantiation rates, employee feedback, report themes and the outcomes they bring about.
It is, of course, right that banks maintain strong principles of privacy. However, it is also right that speaking up is increasingly welcomed as an opportunity to tackle cultural failings – and prevent the issues of the past from reoccurring. As the FCA focuses its attention on the effectiveness of banks' whistleblowing arrangements, now is the time to give your programme a new year health check.
SIGN UP TO OUR NEWSLETTER TO RECEIVE MORE NEWS LIKE THIS STORY
Customers pay nearly £500 more than the advertised personal loan rate
Customers paying for an £8,000 personal loan over four years have paid on average £453 (2.61%) more than the advertised rate, according to the latest research...
Leek United appoints new Ashbourne branch manager
Leek United has appointed Abigail Bowden (pictured above) as the new manager of its Ashbourne branch in Derbyshire...
UTB enters specialist remortgage market
United Trust Bank (UTB) has launched a new residential remortgage product range...
FCA fines Bank of Scotland £45.5m for failing to report fraud suspicions at HBOS Reading
Bank of Scotland (BOS) has been fined £45.5m by the FCA for failing to disclose information about its suspicions of fraud...
N26 introduces MoneyBeam to UK users
N26 has introduced MoneyBeam to its UK users which will enable them to instantly send money to other users of the mobile bank...
NatWest names new CEO for Mettle
NatWest has named Marieke Flament (pictured above) as the CEO of its SME digital banking subsidiary Mettle...
CYBG to rebrand as Virgin Money and launch a new business current account
CYBG has revealed that it will rebrand to Virgin Money over the next two years with new Virgin Money-branded products...
New bank Chetwood Financial reveals long-term ambitions
Chetwood Financial is aiming to use technology to offer better deals to customers, having secured a banking licence late last year...
The opportunity for accountants to help businesses
In light of bank and building society branch closures, a new report published by Oxford Economics in partnership with Funding Circle has revealed that in the UK — despite the vast economic output generated by SMEs — small business lending accounts for only 2% of banks’ balance sheets...
Paragon Bank’s structured lending team passes £100m milestone
Paragon Bank’s structured lending team has passed its £100m milestone 18 months after launching...
Hanley Economic expands intermediary support team
Hanley Economic Building Society has appointed Kate McKeon (pictured above) as an intermediary sales assistant...