Insights & Opinions

New Ethos in Banking – How It Started

Mon, 02 Oct 2023

Rik Coeckelbergs Founder and CEO The Banking Scene

New ethos in banking featured

As you may have already heard or read, I have embarked on an exciting new endeavour - writing a book! However, this is not just any book, and the publisher who has entrusted me with this project is not just any publisher.

Welcome to my Journey

The working title will be familiar if you joined any of The Banking Scene Conferences in 2023: A New Ethos in Banking – Embracing Values and Ethics for a Meaningful Transformation. I’d like to take you with me on this exciting and sometimes fearful journey, which started with a couple of convincing friends and one publisher who read my proposal and saw a fit with their business and the market.

That publisher was Palgrave McMillan. They understood the value of this book, which will investigate what the new ethos in banking could and should look like and, more importantly, how everyone in the industry can contribute to the road to a new ethos in banking. They were curious about what I learned and what I was about to learn in the process of writing this book and talking to industry leaders.

So, they offered me a deal, and I signed the deal, and now I will be writing that book. Luckily, I found many like-minded supporting voices. After announcing this exciting novelty on LinkedIn, it got picked up by numerous people offering me their help.

I reached out to some of the executive speakers at our events and many other inspirational visionaries from the industry and beyond. I feel truly humbled to see so many professionals from across the world willing to let me pick their brains on the topic.

It is truly unbelievable how much I already learned in just one month. There is, of course, much more to learn, so please, if you are one of those people, and you are willing to share your thoughts or looking for a sparring partner to structure your thoughts, get in touch.

The more ideas we share, the more diverse and colourful the story will be.

Now, as the first blog on this journey, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the initial short description of the book so that you can see throughout the process how the story evolves, gets sharper, and moves in all kinds of directions as I continue my research and writing.

Short Description That Convinced Palgrave McMillan to Collaborate

So here we go, I invite you to my journey about writing the book “A New Ethos in Banking – Embracing Values and Ethics for a Meaningful Transformation”, which is about:

The financial services industry has one constant lately, and that is change.

Digital transformation and unexpected events affect the industry more than ever and are more fundamental than before. Yet, the context in which banks do transformation seems different. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed this, but where previously the basis for digital transformation was fear, today I believe it is much more about hope and opportunity.

Banks used ‘to do digital transformation’ as a fear of missing out. They developed digital banking, set up innovation departments and organised hackathons under pressure from new entrants and fintech companies. They did digital out of fear of losing clients or fear of legacy cost structures. They did digital for many other reasons, but primarily out of fear.

So what has changed? What makes me think that transformation in the industry is different today?

In essence, banks are there to realise dreams. They facilitate daily transactions to make life easier; they enable families to become homeowners; they safeguard income and grow businesses with financial solutions.

We sometimes tend to forget this, but that is what banking is about: to realise dreams.

The industry realises they need to provide more than simply offer the same in the digital jacket. Banks are taking the initiative to improve digital and financial well-being, sometimes at the expense of shareholder value, like short-term stock prices and dividends. They understand that shareholders are only one of the stakeholders in an entire ecosystem that should be considered altogether for long-term value generation.

They contribute to a greener society, perhaps not always as fast as some people hope, but they do. Even digital transformation is understood to augment the existing workforce rather than eliminate jobs. Banks look for creative solutions to make life easier for their clients and their environment. Call me naïve as much as you want, but I believe digital transformation today comes with a sense of urgency to do good.

Transformation today starts with the hope for a better world, and we are just at the start of this evolution. An evolution that requires a new ethos in banking. An ethos that favours transparency and customer centricity, society, and the planet as a whole.

Of course, there will always be exceptions, rotten apples. You read the news. The banking industry is shivering again, and the debate on the new ethos in banking is more pressing than ever. How can banks keep realising those dreams?

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