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Podcast: Professionalism, Professional Qualifications and the Royal Commission

by Lewis Panther | 07 Jun 2018

FINSIA can fast forward professionalism in banking in Australia, according to one of the world’s leading education providers.

But the industry will need the support of the banks and regulators for the process to work, Chartered Banker Institute MD Giles Cuthbert says.

The financial services sector training specialist - who has been working on professionalisation and education in banking for 20 years - acknowledged FINSIA was setting a fast pace towards that goal.

Mr Cuthbert, who helped FINSIA launch its PBF in Canberra, explained how thousands of bankers were taking professional qualifications every year in the UK.

Before the GFC, in 2004, there were just a few hundred professionally qualified bankers.

By 2012, that figure had risen to 280,000.

He said: “We have been in a situation where we have seen difficult problems with the banks.

“Now we are in a position 10 years on when we think we’ve done a great deal with the banks and the regulators to restore confidence and trust in banking.

“The opportunity to come to Australia and to similarly have some input into conversations here is a great opportunity.

“It’s great to see FINSIA working so quickly in this regard and indeed Australia responding to FINSIA’s work. 

“It takes a very long time to bring the bank’s together, to get everyone working together. 

“Developing a professional qualification is not like an academic qualification. You can’t just get a book off the shelf, you need to engage with a broad range of professionals.

“You need to get that serious knowledge from an experienced individual and build it into a qualification.

“‘We have been working with FINSIA over the past 18 months pulling things together the qualification and looking at professional standards.

“I’m delighted to say in many ways FINSIA is doing a lot better than the Chartered Banker in the UK at present.

“After the GFC we were in a situation where banks realised they needed to change and we at the institute thought there was something of an absence in the area of professional standards.

“So we suggested a professional standards board for bankers. After all, every profession has a professional standards of conduct and behaviour and technical knowledge, but bankers didn’t.

“It was great the banks responded very quickly to that and were very supportive of that. It couldn’t have happened without the banks.

“It meant that within a relatively short time - by 2012 - we had about 280,000 meeting our foundation standard for bankers. And we have gone on to produce more standards and people are meeting those standards.

“Alongside that, however, we have also found an OLC change towards qualifications in the UK so we have got a situation now here literally thousands of people are qualifying in banking every year and if you compare that 2004 you maybe would have had a few hundred at best.

“So we have seen a real sea change.

“I really would have to emphasise the institute has done a lot of hard work on that but without the banks and their commitment and support from the regulator and a whole range of other stakeholders there’s no way we would have been able to achieve that.

“One thing I would note about that is that’s what is so refreshing arriving here in Australia is FINSIA has all those key relationships in place to build something similar here.”

Giles, who says it is difficult to say if Australia is experiencing the same kind of behaviour that was highlighted after the UK went through the GFC, and prefers to focus on the positives.

He said: “There seems to be a real desire to raise standards in banking. And that’s what I would hold on to here. Let’s look at all those activities that are being put together for the banking professional and look at the best way we can to facilitate that and advance it.”

The educational specialist also said it was difficult to apply broad brush stroke levels of scrutiny for bankers - as different roles needed different types of training and testing.

And technological roles can be out of date within a year.

“So unless you maintain your levels of competence you will be out of  job anyway,” he said.

“Technology is something we all now have to get up to speed on.”

Evidence of how well the CB has done.

“Because we knew professional standards were being introduced on a large scale in 2012 we started measuring trust and confidence in banking in wide groups of individuals - both members of the public and those working in the banking industry.

“Over the four years we have been measuring these trends confidence in the banking industry has increased 10 per cent. We have also seen pride in banking.”

The difference between those in professional bodies and those that are not stands at 25 per cent.

“Both in streams of confidence and in terms of trust we are finding that individuals have far more trust in banking were there is a standards programme in place and also where they are dealing with qualified individuals.

“That’s particularly apparent in the SME market where business banking customers do express a marked preference for qualified individuals to be dealing with their businesses.


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