Ireland continued to be a unique learning experience with my participating with some of the most esteemed organizations in the country.
Throughout I was impressed with the emphasis each had regarding ethics in the banking culture and it was an honor to address these groups who are so focused on stamping out corruption in both business and government.
I presented to the Institute of Banking (IoB) in Dublin at their annual Certified Bank Director conference. The conference brings together those executives who have earned one of the most coveted certifications in EU banking today. Although most of the audience were currently in banking, the audience also included professionals in regulatory and other financial services organizations, including representatives of the new Irish Banking Culture Board.
The presenters were likewise impressive and included Claire Lanigan, Head of Division of the Central Bank of Ireland and Margaret Cullen, CEO of the Certified Investment Fund Director Institute.
The IoB, one of the oldest banking institutes in the world, is also an accredited college, and they currently have the largest continuing education program in Ireland.
The Certified Bank Director program is a specialist governance program that explores the unique challenges of governance that exist in such a highly regulated sector. The program plays a vital role in educating bankers and brings practitioner and research-based perspectives to the issues of risk, governance, strategy and the regulatory environment faced by bank directors in Ireland, United Kingdom, Europe and globally.
The nine-module program is hefty and includes modules on how to understand the essence of a bank, the banking system, the lessons from the banking crisis, and the likely future development of banking post-crisis. There are also modules on how to understand the drivers of consumer-focused culture and best practice in demonstrating ethical leadership and in driving effective cultural change.
The Irish Banking Culture board has one overriding mission: to make banking in Ireland trustworthy again.
Ms. Marion Kelly, the acting CEO of the Irish Banking Culture Board was an honored guest at the conference and has said, “We’ve been working on establishing the IBCB for over nine months now. What we decided to do was we need to hear the voice of the staff, the public and the stakeholders.” She has emphasized how important it was for IBCB to engage all stakeholders to facilitate and encourage the highest standards of ethical conduct in banking.
More banking officials need to follow the lead of Ms. Kelly and Mr. Justice John Hedigan, the Chair of the Irish Banking Culture Board, in the drive to make Irish Banking respected again as a profession. Mr. Justice Hedigan has said “This is a challenging but most worthy endeavor. I am greatly looking forward to working with the new Board and engaging with all stakeholders, particularly bank customers, in facilitating and encouraging the highest standards of ethical conduct in this vital industry.”
I talked about ethical corporate cultures and how to truly implement them within organizations. I shared my speaking to SEACEN and the chief banking regulators of the central banks of 19 southeast Asian countries who wanted to learn the biggest mistakes made by our bank regulators leading up to the financial crisis, such that they could be alert and hopefully identify/stop the issues before they lead to a future financial crisis in their own countries.
I also talked about the concept of control fraud and the extreme damage it can wreak on the economy if not recognized and addressed early. Because control fraud was detected and prosecuted early in the 1980’s crisis, the cost of that crisis was significantly less than the 2008 crisis, when it was allowed to run its course with no prosecutions. And I tried to also sensitize those in the role of bank directors so that they also could recognize control fraud in their own organizations.
After the regulatory panel discussion, a fun experience was going to the IoB film studio where I taped a 20 min webinar to be used in their continuing education program. We also taped a one-minute interview of me with video clips of the conference.
The time I spent with the Institute of Banking reminded me of the critical need to pay more attention, here in the U.S. as well as in other countries, to the role bank directors, regulators and other financial experts play in preventing fraud and ethical lapses. I commend them for their robust learning programs.