Work Programme, Annual Report

2022 / 2023

A core part of the IBCB’s work is to assess and measure progress on behaviour and cultural change across the Irish banking sector. We continue to engage in research and assessment with bank customers, staff and wider stakeholders through our éist surveys. The surveys are published under the banner ‘éist’ which means listen in the Irish language. The results of our surveys are an opportunity for both the IBCB and member banks to listen to and act on the feedback from customers and staff, in order to improve culture. The findings of these surveys are the basis for the initiatives and activities within our Work Programme. We have set out below a summary of the key results of our latest research.


2023 éist Public Trust in Banking survey (published in July 2023)

The éist 2023 Public Trust in Banking survey measures public sentiment towards the five retail banks operating in Ireland. Working with Edelman Ireland, the report leverages the Edelman Trust Measurement (ETM) framework, a robust, tried and tested research tool to measure trust in the banks based on the four dimensions of Ability, Integrity, Dependability and Purpose, amongst a cross-section of the general population.

The report reveals that while banking remains in a state of flux in Ireland, the slow recovery of public trust in the sector continues. Over the last three years of the éist survey, the research demonstrates that people make a distinction between their relationship with their local bank branch, individual banks, and their perception of the wider sector.

The 2023 survey found that trust in the banking sector among the general population has improved by 10 points when compared to 2022, driven by results in purpose, ability, and competence, albeit remaining in a negative domain at -15. Trust among respondents from the SME sector remains ahead of the public and improves again this year by 2 points to -5.  

Trust in bank branches is significantly higher than the collective industry – demonstrating that proximity impacts trust positively. The éist research was carried out in early 2023 against a backdrop of the departure of two of the five retail banks and the issues this gave rise to for customers, such as switching and branch closures. The survey results highlight that the impact of two of these banks leaving the market has understandably significantly impacted perceptions of trust and as a result, the wider trust score for all IBCB member banks is slightly lower than the collective industry.

This year’s survey has captured the emergence of purpose as a significant driver of trust amongst the general population, which is encouraging, and provides a foundation for further improvement in trust levels in the sector via continued support for local communities, customers in vulnerable positions and financial awareness.

People’s relationship with their local branch, as in previous years, remains the area where trust in banks is strongest. Protecting local presence while seeking to replicate that relationship across other delivery channels will serve the interests of both customers and banks well into the future.

The full report is available here:


2023 éist Staff Culture Survey report (published in September 2023)

The éist Staff Culture surveys focus on assessing bank culture from the perspective of bank staff. Bank staff are a key stakeholder, and therefore it is imperative that we hear directly from them.

The 2023 survey focused on exploring bank staff’s views on a range of issues which lie at the heart of banking culture. We appreciate that some aspects of culture will be unique to different member banks however there are also industry-wide cultural themes that are pivotal to a healthy culture. The analysis and reporting allows us to measure and track cultural progress across the sector over recent years.

We have conducted three focused bank staff culture surveys to date and have been working with Ipsos Karian and Box since 2021 using their globally-recognised methodology. This year’s results reflect the views of more than 10,000 bank staff across all levels and roles, and point to continued positive cultural progress across a number of key cultural indicators, in particular in relation to delivering for the customer in the right way. 86% of bank staff consider their bank does business ethically, which is further underpinned by 76% of staff reporting that there is no conflict between their organisation’s stated values and how business is conducted – often referred to as the ‘say/do gap’. Confidence in the sector is a vital element to rebuilding trust, and being able to rely on an organisation acting as it says it does is a cornerstone of that trust.

These results also highlight some areas for improvement and where continued focus is required. While levels of psychological safety are strong, there has been a slight fall back (-3 points) in relation to formal speaking up and whistleblowing since 2021, which highlights how difficult an area this is to get right, and why it is important for the sector to continue to build on the progress made over recent years. Accountability is another area for the sector to focus on, such as providing greater clarity for role-holders and empowering staff to make decisions quickly, which will ultimately benefit the customer.

The IBCB is committed to continuing to work with our member banks and the wider sector in achieving these objectives. Using feedback from the staff culture surveys, we collaborate with our member banks to create the building blocks of a positive culture and make the Irish Banking sector a great place to work. The results of this survey will inform our strategy and work programme for the period ahead. We will work with our member banks to identify suitable actions and initiatives to address the findings, and agree which of those actions will be driven locally by member banks and those which will be driven under the umbrella of the IBCB work programme.

The full report is available here:


2022 éist Proud to work in Banking report (published in September 2022)

One of the key findings from the IBCB éist 2021 Staff Culture Survey, was a profound lack of pride amongst staff across the sector. Only 57% of bank staff who participated in the éist 2021 survey said they were proud to work for their bank, which is 16 points below the FS benchmark of 73%.

The IBCB conducted a dedicated piece of research to delve further into the topic and to explore the drivers impacting bank staff’s sense of feeling proud to work in their organisation. Using the original data from the éist Bank Staff Culture survey in 2021 and supplementing this with 2 staff focus groups and 9 in-depth 1:1 interviews, the research was compiled into the IBCB Proud to Work in Banking Report 2022.

The research found that there are 5 key drivers of feeling proud for staff within the Irish Banking sector:

  • Execs communicating a motivational vision for the future
  • Senior leaders setting a positive example
  • Staff belief that their bank puts customers at the centre of decisions
  • Staff feeling a sense of accomplishment from their work
  • Staff feeling able to always be themselves at work

The IBCB’s Proud to work in Banking report 2022 gives more insights into the research and you can view this short video with a summary of the key points.

The full report is available here:

Watch the video here:


Our activities in the Customer pillar are primarily focussed on financial awareness and financial inclusion within the sector. In the past year the activities have focused on some of the key findings from the éist 2022 Public Trust in Banking Survey.

Working with farmers to understand their banking needs

The éist 2022 Public Trust in Banking survey found that farmers had particularly low levels of trust in their banks. Farmers registered a trust score of -77, ranking significantly lower than both the general population and SMEs. 

The report found the farming industry was facing a multitude of harsh headwinds, many of which were external to Ireland and unrelated to banking. Nonetheless it was imperative that IBCB member banks reflected on these concerning results, engaged with their farming customers, and identified how best to address these concerns. To assist with this process, the IBCB held a dedicated roundtable event with our member banks and key stakeholders in the farming industry at the National Ploughing Championships in September 2022. Feedback from this session was used by our member banks to shape the supports they provide to Farmers going forward.

Some of the key issues that were raised related to improving financial awareness and informing customers on how banks can serve the banking needs of farming customers. Working with the Irish Farmers’ Journal, the IBCB launched a financial awareness series, including articles, videos, and a podcast to address some of the issues raised by farmers and highlight how member banks can support the banking needs of farming customers.

The articles, videos and podcast can be found on our website here:

“The absence of trust amongst the farming community is an issue that needs to be addressed without delay. Farmers are integral to Ireland’s heritage and economy and their perspective needs to be understood, esteemed, and supported and their needs met by banks. The IBCB is determined to play its part in ensuring this takes place.”

Martin Stapleton, IBCB Board Member and Treasurer of the Irish Farmers’ Association

Support for Victims of domestic abuse

Throughout the period the IBCB partnered with Safe Ireland and TASC (Think-tank for Action on Social Change), to provide bespoke financial resilience training to specialist domestic violence support workers. 

The training was facilitated by retired MABS staff with subject matter experts from IBCB member banks co-facilitating on key topics. The programme was rolled out to specialist domestic violence keyworkers who work directly with victims of domestic abuse. Safe Ireland estimates that over 90% of victims of domestic abuse also experience financial abuse and improving financial awareness is a key enabler for victims to move on in their lives. Safe Ireland estimated that the delivery of this training to service providers across their national network, has the potential to benefit 11,000 women and over 2,500 children per year.

In September 2023, TASC will host an event to discuss the issue and launch an evaluation report of the initiative

Financial awareness continues to be a key focus area for the IBCB.

You can watch a short video on the on the TASC initiative here:

financial resilience training website:

Customer Listening with customers with Intellectual Disabilities (ID)

The IBCB conducts customer listening sessions with the purpose of hearing directly from bank customers whose voices may not always be heard in research or focus groups. In Q1 2023 the IBCB held customer listening sessions with people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID). In collaboration with Inclusion Ireland, who advocate for people with ID, we held four listening sessions in Tullamore, Dublin, Cork, and Sligo. The sessions were facilitated by Inclusion Ireland staff, with the IBCB in attendance and we heard from 45 people with ID about their banking needs and experiences. The sessions were both insightful and interesting and follow on activities which focus on financial inclusion and making banking more accessible are being progressed with member banks.

Irish Prison Service

The IBCB and member banks have worked with the Irish Prison Service throughout 2022 and 2023 to support financial inclusion for persons in custody.

Bereaved Customers

In 2019 the IBCB launched the Common Commitment of Care with Member Banks, which provides for improved services for customers (and their families) who have experienced a bereavement. 

In summer of 2022, the Common Commitment of Care was updated. It now includes dedicated phone lines and email addresses for bereaved customers, within each of the member banks and is written in plain English. 

Each of our member bank’s Bereavement Guides have also been published in plain English. The IBCB’s Common Commitment of Care and each of our member bank’s Bereavement Guides have been awarded NALA’s ‘Plain English’ mark.


Our activities under this pillar in the past year have focused on some of the key findings from the éist Staff Culture Survey 2021 and the 2022 Proud to work in Banking report.

Proud to work in Banking

Feeling proud to work in an organisation or sector is highly sensitive to both internal and external corporate narratives. Low levels of organisational pride impact on staffs’ engagement in their organisation and advocacy for their sector as a place to work. 

It is concerning that Irish bank staff report lower levels of organisational pride than their peers in other jurisdictions. 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.

In the éist 2021 Staff Culture Survey we heard that only 57% of staff said they felt proud to work for their bank. The IBCB’s Proud to work in Banking report 2022 (on page 13) gives more insights into the research and you can view this short video with a summary of the key points

Critically, staff’s experiences of the five internal drivers of organisational pride are interlinked. When staff experience none of the drivers, only 4% feel proud to say they work for their organisation, compared to 90% when all drivers are in place.

To launch the report, the IBCB hosted an event in September 2022 for bank staff where we shared the research which focused on staff’s ability to feel ‘Proud to Work in Banking’. The event allowed the IBCB to collect direct feedback from staff to ensure the industry is learning lessons from the mistakes of the past and a more balanced discourse on an industry that has changed significantly in recent years, which is integral to economic success, may start to take place.

In the 2023 éist Staff Culture survey (published September 2023) we heard that more staff agree that senior leaders set a good example (+8pts) and that the Executive teams communicate a motivating vision of the future (+3pts), though at 54% there is room to improve the latter to drive engagement further. It’s encouraging that more staff feel proud to say where they work this year, citing the collaborative culture and focus on customers as the main reasons for feeling proud (61%, +4pts v 2021). 

While many factors impact feedback from staff in being proud to work in banking, the IBCB is keen to ensure it is playing its part in moving the dial via working with the industry to facilitate cultural change.


Following on from the IBCB 2022 Proud to work in Banking report and event, in Q4 2022 and Q1 2023, the IBCB facilitated a series of peer sharing sessions for our member banks, on non-competitive issues such as celebrating successes and recognition. The sessions provided a forum for our member banks to share learnings and best practice on each of the topics.

Individual Accountability Framework

The IBCB welcomes the Individual Accountability Framework (IAF) which was signed into law in March 2023. The IBCB responded to the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI)’s consultation on the legislation in June 2023.

An important aspect of the IAF is the conduct standards, including the obligation to act with honestly & integrity and acting appropriately in any decision making. Earlier this year, the IBCB launched our new ethics page which includes ethical decision-making tools and resources which can support meeting these obligations. The IBCB will continue to work with our member banks in relation to the IAF and particularly in the context of the conduct standards, to support the consistent demonstration of the behaviours of acting with honesty and integrity.

See our response here

Ethics and Behaviours

Positive cultural change is founded on ethical behaviour. Demonstrating ethical decision-making consistently is challenging and is not unique to the banking industry. Feedback from staff in our member banks and other stakeholders including customers, highlighted the challenges involved in linking an organisation’s stated ethical values and behavioural requirements with the day-to-day decisions which staff across banks make on an ongoing basis.

The IBCB has developed a practical decision-making framework aimed at staff at all levels in banks, from the top down. The DECIDE framework was designed to complement the existing internal decision-making tools and resources available within our member banks.

To further assist bank staff with the application of ethical decision-making in their day-to-day activities, to prompt staff to challenge their own thinking and to keep this important topic front of mind, in 2023 the IBCB developed some further tools and resources which are now hosted on a dedicated Ethics page on the IBCB website. 

What are these tools and resources? 

  • The DECiDE framework is available in several formats (pdf, in a booklet with supporting context) and it has now been brought to life to be explored in an interactive way. 
  • A series of short videos have been created with an Introduction to Ethical decision-making, Frameworks, Key Considerations and A Hypothetical Scenario to prompt thinking and reflections on this topic. 
  • An interactive resource called ‘How to Think Differently’ has been developed. The interactive resource covers topics such Present Bias, the Mirror Test and a Hypothetical scenario to put the other themes into context


The IBCB will continue to work with our member banks to further enhance and support the use of DECiDE and other internal ethical decision-making supports. 

Speak Up (& being heard)

A culture of openness and positive challenge is important to instil in every organisation, at Board level and all the way down throughout an organisation.

The manner in which leaders and organisations manage the Speak Up process is integral to achieving real, sustainable and authentic cultural change. If an organisation is not serious about fostering an environment where people feel ‘safe’ to air alternative views, be that at meetings or in one to ones, or in ensuring that the process around the handling of formal ‘speak-ups’ is robust, transparent and confidential, then it will be very difficult to succeed in delivering cultural change.

During the period the IBCB contributed towards various Speak Up initiatives across our member banks – e.g. participating in Speak Up events and speaking at town halls and team meetings aimed at highlighting the importance of speaking up.

In the éist 2023 Staff Culture Survey we heard staff feel they can speak more freely but are not as confident speaking up about wrongdoing. Staff feel more listened to than they did previously, suggesting the focus on this aspect of the sector’s culture has led to a more open and inclusive environment. More staff feel they can share their opinions without fear of negative consequences (+7pts) and that people are treated fairly when they make mistakes (+2pts). 

However, perceptions of being able to speak up specifically about wrongdoing have fallen 3 points which shows how challenging this is to get consistently right. Speaking up (& being heard) remains core to the IBCB Work programme in the period ahead.

Staff Pressures and Strain

Staff wellbeing underpins a healthy workplace culture. Excessive strain can lead to physical and mental health issues, as well as lower motivation and performance. 

In the éist 2023 Staff Culture survey we heard that work-life balance has improved 12 points since 2021, likely reflecting easing pressures and greater adoption of hybrid and flexible working. 

Levels of constant strain have fallen 10 points, but 43% report feeling under constant strain in the last 6 months, rising to 54- 55% among middle management. 

The main factors contributing to strain relate to systems, processes, tech, staffing and long working hours. Strain and Wellbeing continues to be a core focus in the IBCB Work programme.