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  • Rachel Treece

Are financial services companies ready for healthy organisational culture?

As the CEO of a company that specialises in organisational health and comes with a solid background in working in, and servicing, the financial services sector I am well positioned to deliver on our goal of making financial services a better place to be.

Whilst agreeing to talk at a conference in December, promoting the future vision for Human Resources, the organiser patiently listened to my passionate vision and, without blinking an eye, said “it is without doubt Rachel that financial services are the sector that need this most, but are they ready?”. I paused, listening to his musings and wondered.

My journey and passion for changing the way financial services companies operate came from personal experience. Friends, and friends of friends have recounted tales in asset servicing of “sweat-shops” and Victorian management styles which don’t reach the news because of “fear” and a perception that these are “rich” bankers

It is relatively easy to identify evidence on how organisational culture can be an intangible asset of a business - a source of competitive advantage and a key reason for a business enjoying industry-beating financial performance. However, the reverse can also be true. If organisational culture is managed incorrectly or (worse) left un-managed, it can become dysfunctional or toxic. In these situations, the organisational culture of a business can become a liability, not an asset. It can even lead to the failure of the business.

A useful analogy for corporate culture is to think of culture as being like a living, breathing eco-system. Shaun Parr's excellent article in FastCompany uses the example of an aquarium to illustrate the concept: "Long-term success is dependent on a culture that is nurtured and alive. Culture is the environment in which your strategy and your brand thrives or dies a slow death. Think about it like a nurturing habitat for success. Culture cannot be manufactured. It has to be genuinely nurtured by everyone from the CEO down. Ignoring the health of your culture is like letting aquarium water get dirty. "

Having a positive culture will also generate a return on the asset side with the potential to attract investors (and keep existing), whilst on the liability side, the cost of not having a good corporate culture can be seen in regulatory fines (not only in monetary terms but also in time, with focus being taken away from driving the business) I have had informal conversations with regulators in Europe who all concur that a wellbusiness philosophy will be mandated in the future. So I’d like to know -was my friend the event organiser correct? Are Financial Services ready…..?

About Rachel Treece,

Rachel is the CEO of fts global and wellbusiness™ and is passionate about company culture. Visit her LinkedIn page here.

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