Its time for integrity in financial services

In an environment where the Royal Commission is revealing some very poor behaviour, we are reminded of the importance of integrity and belief, and genuinely caring about customers.

Anthony R Brown - CEO NobleOak Life Ltd

Anthony R Brown - CEO NobleOak Life Ltd

23 April 2018 - 3 minute read

Many of us have been shocked and disappointed to read the recent reports in the media revealing inappropriate, and at times immoral, behaviour exposed through the Royal Commission into the Financial Services Industry.

This has involved a number of the Industry’s leading brands who have been entrusted with securing the financial futures of millions of Australians. It has been highlighted that one of these companies has been charging clients without providing any service, and another has been charging clients who have been dead for many years. There are also numerous other sickening stories being revealed.

These companies have failed in their primary duty of care to put the customer first and foremost. They have failed to ensure the customers’ financial affairs are properly and fairly looked after and to which they were entrusted.

There are of course many honest and decent people who have worked very hard in these businesses over the years, however they have often been hamstrung by compromised cultures and managed by people who have little or no connection with their customers. Many of us have heard slogans from managers and CEOs such as “the customer always comes first” or “we are customer centric”– but these quotes have usually lacked integrity and not been genuine.

The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Unfortunately the general public perception of the Australian Financial Services Industry has been tarnished and it will take time for credibility and trust to be re-established.

In these challenging times, it’s wise for us all, including all our staff at NobleOak, to reflect on why we are in this business, who we must focus on, and the social licence we have and are responsible for delivering. At NobleOak we are entrusted to protect families when they are most vulnerable. “Being noble” and putting our clients first are not slogans at NobleOak – they are beliefs that guide the way we deal with our clients. Caring for clients is why we are here.

While I watch the stories unfold with some sadness, I am optimistic that cultural change will be accelerated in many of the larger advised wealth businesses as a result of the Royal Commission and the customers will again be the primary focus for every Financial Services company. After all, they are our reason for being.

This will be a wonderful development.