Foreword from IBCB CEO
The past year has continued to be one characterised by significant change globally, in the economy and in the banking market here in Ireland. The impact of the pandemic on the economy and on individuals and businesses continued throughout the year, only to be compounded by rising concerns around the cost of living and other geo-political and economic concerns. In addition, the process of the Ulster Bank and KBC Bank Ireland withdrawals from the market commenced during the year with resulting upheaval for thousands of bank customers.
The IBCB’s focus throughout has been on actions by our banks individually and collectively, and by the IBCB, which are aligned with our overall purpose – working with the industry to rebuild trust. We have used our General Principles of Change, launched in September 2021, to review and challenge change within our member banks and developed a specific set of Principles in May 2022 focused on how our member banks (both those leaving and remaining in the market) are managing account closures, opening and moving.
The past year has also seen us run our second éist Public Trust in Banking survey. The results of this survey (published in July 2022) found that trust levels remain extremely low, particularly so with certain cohorts of customers, especially the farming community. There have been small improvements in trust levels with other customer cohorts such as SMEs but there remains a significant mountain to climb in the restoration of trust in an industry which is essential to us all. Identifying actions to address these findings will be a key area of focus for the IBCB in the year ahead.
The IBCB’s 2021 éist Staff Culture Survey found that staff’s sense of pride in working for their organisation sits at 57% across the sector, which is 16 points below the global Financial Services (FS) benchmark, which is concerning. The future success of the Irish Banking sector is largely dependent on the thousands of bank staff working across the industry. To ensure that customers’ needs are well served, it is vital that the industry can attract and retain talent, both now and in the future. Understanding and addressing the issues that are impacting bank staff’s sense of pride in their roles and organisations is therefore essential. We have been conducting further research and analysis on this topic over the course of this year and will be publishing a report on this important topic in Autumn 2022.
Supports for customers in a vulnerable position is an integral responsibility of our member banks and has been the focus of a number of IBCB initiatives over the past year. In particular, we focussed on the development of our Guide to the Basic Bank Account which was published in 10 different languages in February of this year and our partnership with TASC and Safe Ireland to support the development of training materials on financial awareness for victims of domestic violence.
The past year has seen the commencement of formal debate, led by the Department of Finance, on the Future of Banking in Ireland. The IBCB welcomes this review and has contributed to it. It is essential that we have open, honest and inclusive debate on this key topic for all of us as individuals as well as for the wider economy. We look forward to the outcome of the review which is expected before the end 2022 and will be focussing on resulting actions of relevance for us, and our member banks, in the year ahead.
Finally, a big thank you to all of the members of our small central team who have continued to work with dedication and enthusiasm over the past year. I would also like to thank our Chairman, Mr. Justice John Hedigan and all members of the wider IBCB Board for their ongoing support and commitment.