The first banker to complete both Professional Banking Fundamentals and Chartered Banker by Experience has spoken about the way FINSIA’s qualifications will equip future leaders with the right ethical framework.
NAB Retail Customer Executive Rob Gower - who became a Chartered Banker last month - talked to InFinance about the rigorous nature of the courses and his hopes for the industry, which he believes should be striving to achieve Chartered status similar to that of accountants and solicitors.
Rob SA FIN, who has been in the industry more than 20 years, set about studying the program shortly after its launch in 2018.
“I was listening to the Royal Commission, which just didn't reflect the traits of the bankers I’ve worked with. So, I started asking myself a question of why we were getting this negative review and other industries weren’t,” he said.
“I began researching accountants and realised their ethical and professional standing had been historically unquestioned for a long period of time, so I questioned what they were doing differently.
“That was around about the time FINSIA launched all their professional qualifications. I always seek new learning opportunities and decided that I wanted to take on the unique challenge of leading the industry into a professional era.”
Despite becoming the first to finish out of NAB's initial cohort undertaking the PBF, Rob acknowledges the course requires thinking space and commitment. “I had to sit down, apply myself and commit adequate time to embed the learnings.”
“Since then, I've spoken to a couple of my colleagues who are on the journey and they had a similar experience to me, it doesn't matter whether you're new to banking or somebody who's been around a while, it challenges us on making sure that we do get the fundamentals right.
“In my previous qualifications, I had never done anything specifically around ethics and I found that was a great learning experience.
“Prior to PBF, I think that I was a pretty ethical guy. And I still do.
“The course has really made me think about the way that I make everyday decisions and how I can use the different types of ethical decision-making processes.
“Previously I had successfully relied on my personal values to make decisions. Whereas this way, it provided me with real processes that ensured consistent high quality, ethical decision making.”
Rob looked into following the PBF with Certified Professional Banker, but as a senior executive the natural progression was the fast track Chartered Banker by Experience. “I really enjoyed the program and having a one-on-one relationship with your assessor is great, he said.
“The assignment that had me reflect on previous situations in my career and understand what was my decision and then use an ethical framework to assess what my decision making was like, which I found to be a really interesting process to go through.
“It made me see it from a very different lens. It was pretty clear what the outcome should be, but it made me look at it from a different perspective.”
“It has always been ingrained in me that I do the right thing. Whereas now, it's consciously in my mind and there's times where I will pause and go, ‘That just doesn't feel right. Let me think about that a little bit more.’
“The extra tools that have been added to my belt through PBF and Chartered Banker is around banking and ethics, and the ethical frameworks I can apply to my role have been really beneficial to me.”
Returning to his hopes for the industry to be seen in the same way as accountants and solicitors, Rob said: “I think what NAB is undertaking is absolutely sensational for our industry and it really has put us at the forefront for positive change and improvement in the banking industry.
“Initially, this will differentiate NAB from our competitors and in an ideal world, I'd love for us to get to a point where the entire industry has embedded the fundamentals of banking in all 440,000 bankers in Australia.
“And from a personal level, it’s nice to be one of the first ones to get there.”