As we rebuild the banking industry the role of the banks in society has been under unprecedented scrutiny. The financial crisis in conjunction with a number of headline problems, exposed flaws in leadership, culture and values. When I joined banking over 30 years ago I joined because I believed that helping customers was a good thing, and I believed in and recognised the pivotal role that finance plays in society both economically and socially. I believe passionately that our role in society is even more critical now, and we can play a significant part in growing this economy and making a difference to society at large.
Our staff in our branches and business centres across the island started in banking for the same reason that I did, to serve customers well. We have continued to do that throughout the crisis but as an industry there is a lot to do rebuild trust. At Ulster Bank we are working hard to bring the core values that the organisation has held for 177 years to the fore. Serving our customers well and playing our role in society to the full is vital to rebuilding our relationship with society.
Doing “good” business
In the main society accepts that the private sector needs to be profitable but those profits need to be proportionate, fair, and ethically generated. A good example of what this means in practice is Business Women Can where we want to support female entrepreneurship on the Island, be the bank of choice for women-led businesses and promote gender diversity within the bank. This week we launched our proposition for Not-For-Profit organisations where we see a real alignment of values with this important sector.
One week in June
We were the first bank on the Island to facilitate charitable giving through our ATMs. Next week we will be double matching all customer donations up to €250,000 and we will be launching that in the press shortly. Alongside that our staff are coming together across the island in many events supporting a myriad of local charities. We hope that by focussing the efforts of the bank, it’s staff and its customers we can make a real impact. Our staff are consistently amongst the best in giving time and support to the third sector and over the next few weeks we want to promote their efforts for the good of the community.
My own contribution will be a band evening at Grand Social in Dublin. We have two bands, one from Ulster Bank and one from RBS in London. We have sold out all the tickets with the proceeds going to Rehab. Unfortunately for the long suffering audience I will be playing bass guitar, lead guitar, acoustic guitar and singing. We can only hope for laryngitis!