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Regaining public trust in bankers is difficult and a long-term project, conference hears
Dr Joe McGrath, UCD Sutherland School of Law, Ciaran Walker, Eversheds Sutherland and Mr Justice John Hedigan, chair of the Irish Banking Culture Board

10 Feb 2020 / regulation Print

Regaining public trust in bankers is 'difficult'

The challenge to improving banking culture is that each institution sets its own parameters, aUCD conference has heard.

The 6 February gathering at UCD Sutherland School of Law heard from regulators from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as well as chair of the Irish Banking Culture Board Mr Justice John Hedigan.

Regardless of geography, regulators want institutions to speak up, attendees heard.


The half-day event included a roundtable with retail banking leaders from KBC and Permanent TSB.

The evolving nature of bank culture was highlighted but the key challenge is to balance the legitimate interests of all stakeholders. 

The conference heard that banking culture can be improved with:

  • clear communication methods using simple and understandable language,
  • better listening skills,
  • improving complaints management,
  • allowing employees to learn by doing,
  • closing any gap between business strategy and customer needs,
  • establishing an environment where people can speak up in safety.

Global phenomenon

IBCB chair Mr Justice John Hedigan told the conference “This is a global phenomenon.

“Regulating banking culture is the cutting edge of modern society, and Ireland is at the cutting edge in this regard,” he said.

He said that the IBCB’s aim is to rebuild trust in banking, but it can only do this by promoting the highest standards of behaviour and professionalism.

This will take time, Mr Justice Hedigan said but the IBCB’s focus is to change culture in the banks. 

'On a path'

“We are on a path to something a lot better than where we have been. We can all do better and we can dare to believe that we can make a difference and a significant one.

“Regaining the public’s trust is difficult and a long-term project. Now is the time. There has never been a more significant time to address the issues in the banking sector,” he said.

Ciaran Walker of Eversheds Sutherland said “As the retail banks know to their cost, getting culture wrong is increasingly damaging to their bottom line and reputations.

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