To rebuild trust, banks have to go beyond corporate social responsibility and embed good practices in everything they do.
In November 2018, we were delighted to be named as one of two winners of the Lord Mayer’s Business of Trust Champion Award. It was a great night celebrating some fantastic businesses which promote a more socially responsible way of working – and it shows where the world of business needs to go.

Each of the winners, in their own way, showcased some of the positive moves being made in the world of business. They included:

  • MacQuarie: Won the Accelerator Award for helping to grow Leadership Through Sport and Business, a charity which aims to increase social mobility for people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • Think Forward: Their partnership with ICG Specialist Asset Management to help prevent youth unemployment by intervening early and providing long term support for schools with disengaged youth people between the ages of 13 and 18.
  • Beck Greener: Its program ‘STEM’ Branching Out encourages people from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider careers in science.

All of them show that the power of business can be used to drive all sorts of positive results. Indeed, there are many more examples of great projects all around the country, and they demonstrate a genuine desire at all levels to create a more socially responsible approach for business.

An issue of trust

But the sector needs to do more. By including the Business trust Champion Award, the City of London recognised that corporate social responsibility projects are only part of the story. Social responsibility has been an important part of corporate strategy for many years, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to improved trust.

BP for example, was seen as a positive force in the energy world. Their commitment to renewable energies and CSR saw them included in many ethical funds; they were the sustainability partners of London 2012. All that hard work was somewhat torpedoed after the accident in the Gulf of Mexico – something which was down to a failure of basic day to day practices.

Trust comes through everyday activities: from good corporate practices, commitments to diversity and equal opportunities and the ability to avoid falling foul of the regulators.

This is the direction financial regulation is heading. From GDPR putting customers back in control of their own data to MiFiDII demanding institutions keep a complete record of all communications, the focus is on improved corporate culture and transparency.

Doing so may not always be a result of neglect or corporate greed. In an evolving regulatory landscape it can be difficult to plug all the gaps and to ensure compliance across an organisation. It only takes one bad apple to potentially destroy the reputation of a company.

Reputational threats come from everywhere: whether it’s poor trading practices of an individual, a failure to disclose information or keep customer data safe. By looking after the little details, banks have a good chance of making sure that the bigger issues look after themselves.