As part of our Changing Culture lecture series, we were addressed almost a fortnight ago by former Cabinet Secretary Lord O’Donnell.

Lord O’Donnell outlined six lessons he believed the UK’s banking sector should learn from the Civil Service, and the approach and philosophy of Toronto-Dominion Bank, where he is an adviser. The lessons were as follows:

  • Firstly, that British banks needed to change their culture and become more customer-centric like T-D Bank.
  • Secondly, that banks can operate with customer focused values and be commercially successful.
  • Thirdly, that banks and regulators needed to understand how consumers make financial decisions, given that customers often made decisions relating to financial services and products that were not in their best interests.
  • The fourth lesson alluded to by Lord O’Donnell concerned what he believed to be the effectiveness of the Official Secrets Act in imbuing civil servants with a strong set of professional values. Banks, it was suggested, should look to emulate such a code in order to remind bankers of their professional obligations.
  • Fifthly, it was suggested that banks needed to find ways of inculcating their stated values into employees brought in from other countries or sectors of banking.
  • And lastly, Lord O’Donnell argued that an organisation with a strong set of values creates a virtuous circle which those values end up being reinforced and reflected in its employees.

We would like to thank Lord O’Donnell for a fascinating lecture, the full transcript of which is available by clicking here.

Tagged on: