IBCB Public and Stakeholder Consultation Report 2019

It was essential for the IBCB to ask for, and listen to, the views of the public in relation to banking culture. Through a website (yoursaybankingculture.ie), which was supported by a press and radio advertising campaign, we received 747 responses from members of the public in relation to the role, remit and composition of the IBCB. We also received comments on a variety of wider aspects of Irish banking, both current and over the past 10 years. The Stakeholder consultation exercise involved 38 face to face interviews with individuals and organisations from right across Irish society, including consumer organisations, small and large business, farmers, charities, youth groups, students, trade unions, the elderly, media, politicians and regulators.

Key Themes

  • The need for the sector to treat all customers – both profitable and less so, those in arrears or part of vulnerable groups with Respect. Examples included the means of communicating with customers – for example the tone, and frequency of letters to those in financial difficulties was raised a number of times; as were the number of phone calls required to get through to someone who could assist with an arrears issue; or customers in distress – post a bereavement for example having to repeat their query multiple times on a phone line;
  • We heard about the need to consider marginalised or vulnerable customers and those in rural communities impacted by the evolution of the banking model – particularly via the move to digitalisation;
  • The need for the sector to support financial education amongst their customers was mentioned frequently, including ‘just in time’ education prior to making significant financial decisions;
  • The need for more transparent communications, less jargon in documentation but also transparency when things go wrong – it was generally accepted that mistakes happen but what is key is that when they do happen, they are quickly acknowledged, steps to resolve are clearly communicated and progress is explained;
  • Finally, we heard about the need to consider the requirements of smaller business impacted by the move to less face to face banking – particularly SMEs and farmers.
Much of this feedback is quoted verbatim in the Consultation report we have published. This makes sobering reading for the banking sector and points to the long road ahead to restore trust. However, it was important and necessary for the sector to ask for, and to listen to, these views – to hold the mirror up and to be prepared to act on what it reflects. 6 of the themes identified in the Public & Stakeholder Consultation Report are priorities within the IBCB’s year one Work Programme.

Key Findings

  • Acting ethically, treating customers fairly and transparency are key focus areas – ensuring banks act in accordance with and are held accountable to the highest possible ethical standards (83%), ensuring customers are treated fairly (61%) and promoting a culture of transparency (60%) are the top three focus areas for the IBCB, according to those surveyed;
  • The need for the sector to treat all customers with respect. This theme of a need to demonstrate greater respect included the means of communicating with all customers – whether through the tone and frequency of letters to those in financial difficulties; the number of phone calls required to get through to someone who could assist with an issue – particularly for customers in distress; or the difficulties experienced by customers seeking a face to face meeting with a bank;
  • The need for the sector to consider the needs of marginalised or vulnerable customers and those in rural communities that are impacted by the evolution of the banking model – particularly via the move to digitalisation;
  • The need for the sector to support financial education amongst their customers, including ‘just in time’ education prior to making significant financial decisions;
  • The need for greater transparency in communications – specifically, less jargon in documentation but also transparency when things go wrong – there is a general acceptance that mistakes happen but what is key is that when they do happen, they are quickly acknowledged, steps to resolve are clearly communicated; progress is explained, and banks learn from their mistakes;
  • The need for the sector to consider the banking needs of smaller business and how they are impacted by the move to less face to face banking engagement – particularly SMEs and farmers.
These are not one-off exercises. The IBCB intends to continue to survey bank staff and to listen to the views of the public and stakeholders in relation to bank culture. Over time these surveys will provide an indication of the industry’s progress in achieving positive cultural change and in securing fair customer outcomes.
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IBCB Public and Stakeholder Consultation Report 2019

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