The Year Ahead: Work Programme
Look to the Future
Whilst the IBCB’s primary purpose is to work with our member banks to build trustworthiness in order to assist the industry in regaining public trust, at the same time, the banking landscape in Ireland is currently changing significantly. Consolidation in the sector will result in fewer banks operating in the sector, with both Ulster Bank and KBC Ireland signalling their intention to exit their operations in Ireland. The entrance of fintech and other service providers into banking services in Ireland is also changing the competitive landscape. Increased digitalisation and use of technology and artificial intelligence has provided new and convenient channels for many customers to access banking services. Fewer customers are using bank branches, which has resulted in some branch closures. This increased use of digital channels and reduced branch footprints is challenging for some customers, who may wish or need to access services in person. This potentially creates a risk of financial exclusion for some, and some customers will need additional support to access banking services. The introduction of individual accountability legislation through the Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR) will result in more focus on the responsibilities and accountabilities of those working in banks.
These changes have prompted discussions on the future of banking in Ireland. This is an important debate and the IBCB looks forward to contributing to this via the lens of positive behavioural and cultural change.
2021/2022 will also likely see the conclusion of the CBI’s Tracker mortgage investigations. The IBCB was established as a result of the poor culture which was found to have materially contributed to this issue and we intend to consider what lessons have been learned by our member banks as a result of their culture and behaviour programmes and our own initiatives.
In order to assess whether these industry and/or institutional changes within our member banks are being managed in a manner that is aligned with the IBCB’s founding principles of fairness and transparency, we have developed a series of Guiding Principles for our member banks to be adhered to, as relevant, where there are significant changes in operating models and/or activities resulting in material impacts on bank customers, and/or staff, and/or the wider market. These Principles were launched in September 2021 and will be a priority area of focus for us in the coming year.
Our strategic priorities and work programme for the year ahead have evolved to include some of these areas and to address feedback received in our éist surveys. Our website will be updated on a regular basis to reflect our ongoing priorities.
The Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR)
Individual accountability is a cornerstone of positive behaviour and culture. The IBCB and each of our member banks are strong advocates for the introduction of an effective accountability regime in Ireland, similar to that in operation in other jurisdictions. We were pleased to see the publication of the heads of bill for the SEAR (Senior Executive Accountability Regime) legislation in summer 2021. We have established a SEAR working group which first met in May 2021 to discuss the forthcoming legislation and lessons which could be learned from the experience of other countries, in particular that of the UK and Australia. We look forward to contributing to the debate on the introduction of SEAR in Ireland and this will be a priority area of focus for us in 2021/22.