Dublin V. London: A Tale of Two Bank Cities

An insightful commentary from James Sweeney in our Dublin office on the recently published report from the Irish Banking Culture Board…

April 16th saw the publication of the Irish Banking Culture Board’s initial report on the culture found amongst the five main retail lenders operating in Ireland. While the media has paid great attention to the desire by the Board to restore transparency and trust in Ireland’s financial institutions, another aspect of the report has garnered sparse attention.

By asking how a bank demonstrates the key characteristics (honesty, respect, openness, accountability, competence, reliability, responsiveness, personal and organisational resilience, and shared purpose) which would be expected to be associated with any good culture and fair customer outcomes in banking, an interesting contrast emerged between banks in Ireland and those in the United Kingdom.

In each of the sought-after characteristics surveyed, the United Kingdom comes out well ahead of its Irish counterparts. What precisely drives these differences is at first glance perhaps an internal cultural difference that is exacerbated by external events. While this may be a rudimentary conclusion, exactly how we begin to alleviate this gap is a more thought-provoking process that cannot be undertaken quickly.

Strategic hiring and equally strategic development of current senior talent are two vital first steps to embrace the holistic approach that is required by all the stakeholders in the modern Irish banking system.