Three in ten UK bankers worry about consequences of speaking up, survey finds – CNBC

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Nearly three in ten bankers are worried about the negative consequences for them if they raised concerns to their managers, according to a survey conducted by UK-based Banking Services Board.

The survey that gathered responses from more than 28,000 staff members from 22 banks across the UK including names like Barclays, HSBC, RBS and Lloyds focused on balancing work standards and ethics in businesses.

The survey showed that only about 65 percent of employees agree that there is no conflict between their firm’s stated values and the way the firm does business. However, 14 percent of those interviewed see such a conflict, with this being more marked in systemically important institutions.

“Of those employees who perceive a conflict, almost half also do not believe that senior leaders in their organization mean what they say (compared with the 19% of employees in general who do not believe that senior leaders mean what they say),” the survey added.

The City of London at sunset

The survey also points to a number of factors that employees mentioned contributing to this lack of alignment. While some raised concerns about their firms’ business model, suggesting that particular products did not necessarily meet customer needs, others said values were inconsistently applied.

The survey also showed that almost 37 percent of employees seeing others trying to avoid taking responsibility for actions or decisions with many linking this tendency with a fear of making mistakes.

Furthermore, almost three in five employees across all banks said they felt under considerable pressure to perform at their work and more than a quarter said working in their firm has had a negative impact on their health and wellbeing.

“Ten years on from the beginning of the global financial crisis, trust in banks remains the key challenge facing the industry,” said Antonio Simoes, chief executive of HSBC Bank, adding that the BSB Annual Review provides an important reference point for improvement across the sector.

Taking notes in meeting

But balancing work and ethics remains a challenge as per the survey. Nine out of ten bankers surveyed across firms say that their colleagues act in an honest and ethical way but 12 percent said they see instances where unethical behavior is rewarded and 13 percent see it as difficult to get ahead in their careers without flexing their ethical standards. About 18 percent see people in their organization turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.

The BSB, established in April 2015 aims to help raise standards of behavior across the UK banking sector, was set up following the report by the UK Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards and is a voluntary membership body open to all banks and building societies.

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Three in ten UK bankers worry about consequences of speaking up, survey finds – CNBC