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THE BANKING SECTOR MUST EVOLVE TO CREATE A BETTER WORLD

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THE BANKING SECTOR MUST EVOLVE TO CREATE A BETTER WORLD

There is a societal and human need to transform our financial institutions if we want to see an impact on the overall economy and society. To realize this fundamental change we have to create leaders with transformational skills and a deep understanding of cross-cultural management.

Professor Jaap Boonstra, ESADE Business School (www.esade.edu), teaches on the CEMS programme

Transforming financial institutions

There is a societal and human need to transform our financial institutions into a more sustainable and value driven business.

The banking sector is one of the most internationalized services in our world, as we have experienced in the recent worldwide financial crisis.  Changing the way of banking is a huge challenge for bankers, governments and academics. In the last few decades our financial institutions have been expanding and growing by mergers and acquisitions and through this expansion we have created international operating banks and insurance companies. Because of this globalization, these institutions are too big to fail and difficult to control.

It is time to reconsider our worldwide financial institutions and raise the question how we are able to create financial services that support global development combined with local presence and transparency. Building alliances might be a solution in transforming financial services that are focused on real economy and connected to local communities.

International collaboration in alliances

In our global world international collaboration in alliances is developing very fast, however many international mergers or takeovers fail because cultural differences are neglected.

Alliances of international firms are more successful then mergers, especially when cultural differences are taken seriously in development of the alliance.

To transform our financial institutions we need to think in terms of cultural transformation and building alliances with transparency and local presence. This transformational challenge is closely connected with the values of CEMS, the alliance of 28 prestigious business schools worldwide (www.cems.org):

– Pursuit of excellence with the highest standards of integrity, humility, and ethical conduct.

– Professional responsibility and accountability in relation to society and the environment

– Drawing upon the value of cultural diversity with respect and empathy

When we take these CEMS values seriously, the banking sector is one of the most important businesses that needs to change in order to create a better world.

Cultures in the banking sector

The banking sector culture differs enormously across countries.

Shareholder value is a main driver in the banking sector in the Western world with a short-term perspective on profit. Profit goes before people.

In South-East Asia harmony and loyalty are important values and these influence financial services in Asia. Islamic banking means that banking activities are consistent with the principles of the Sharia and the Sharia prohibits acceptance of specific interest or fees for loans of money; you are not allowed to make money out of money.

In China the principle of Guanxi is important to understand banking activities – it is based on trust to people you know and distrust to strangers. Intermediaries are required to overcome mistrust. In China profit is important but it is based on a long-term perspective.

India has unique geographic, social and economic characteristics and these features are reflected in the banking sector. The banking sector has to serve the goals of economic policies and India has a huge experience in micro finance.

These examples make clear that it is impossible to speak about the banking sector culture in general. We need a deep understanding of country cultures and banking habits if we want to build new financial alliances and contribute to a fundamental change in our financial institutions.

Deep cultural changes

Deep cultural changes within banks in our Western world are forced by governmental regulations, which means that change on a deeper level of values and basic assumptions is not obvious. Shareholder value and short-term profit still go before people.

Cross-cultural and global management skills are necessary when we really want to transform our international banking sector and effect deep cultural changes. Transnational leadership is a quality, more than a competence. It is related to the quality of life and the quality of our society.

 Transnational leaders have a worldwide view, are open-minded and willing to experiment with new behavior. They are cultural sensitive and able to develop a deep understanding of guiding values in human interaction. They are social aware, interested in the needs and values of people around them and they recognize what inspires and fascinates them. Maybe most importantly: they know where they come from and understand their own cultural values.

Value based banking

There are good examples of value based banking worldwide.

In Europe Triodos Bank is an excellent example of a bank that pays attention to sustainability and the needs of customers and society. Worldwide, the Global Alliance of Banking on Values (GABV. www.gabv.org) is one of the most remarkable initiatives of banks that puts people before profit and is based on values like transparency, long-term resilience, investing in real economy and long term client relationships.

The alliance comprises 28 financial institutes operating across 31 countries in Asia, Africa, Australia, Latin America, North America and Europe, serving 20 million customers. It is a growing movement that influences the way people are doing business and create a living.

The glue in the alliance is based on their key values: Long term orientation, transparency and respect for people and nature. Being a manager in a GABV bank is quite a difficult task since it is not about making money but about being reasonably profitable in a people centered organization with strong values.

One of the toughest challenges in values based banks is recruiting executives that combine banking experience and technical knowledge with the right values so that they become role models within the bank and promote a value based banking culture.

Young talents exploring value based banking

Last spring almost fifty CEMS students at ESADE business school collaborated with the GABV and have developed an interesting tapestry of ideas with regards to the banking industry. One of the most important insights is that value based banking is possible all around the world, in almost every country, including Russia, China and India.

The students presented findings about cultural differences in banking around the world and offered ideas for new member banks for the GABV in India, China, Russia, Latin America, Africa, South-East Asia and Arab countries. Next to this they shared ideas to develop the GABV as a worldwide movement to change the way of banking.

The GABV representatives who experienced the research and contributions of the students, commented: “A group of 50 students with 22 nationalities took our breath that day at ESADE Business School in Barcelona. The quality of ideas and their positive energy opened-up our minds. That day we had an excellent experience that really contributed to Value Based Banking. With all that talent at hand, we didn’t miss out on the opportunity to ask these young talents what it would take to get them interested in working in the banking industry.

They framed it as “the five I’s”:

  1. Innovation
  2. International experience
  3. Impact for a better world
  4. Intrinsic values
  5. Interactions with people of different backgrounds

Sharing knowledge and reflective learning

Working on transformational issues in banking by students opens up new perspectives on worldwide banking and at the same time contributes to reflective learning and transforms the way students think about finance in business schools.

Transformational change in finance starts with the engagement of young professionals because they are the future in our businesses. Reflections of the students who participated in this mutual learning experience express that transforming financial services is valuable and possible.

“I heard in the past years various stories about certain irresponsible and careless behavior of professionals working in the banking area. Therefore, I see the coming years as a real clarification phase for myself in terms of how my generation can change banking and how the whole market values develop.“
                – Christopher Brunert, ESADE Business School, Barcelona, Spain.

“My first impression was “ah yeah, sustainable banking, how is it possible? Banking is the least attractive sector for sustainability”. However, by the end of the course I had changed my mind: we need to tackle the toughest sector if we want to see an impact on the overall economy and society!”

  • Arturo Villa, Bocconi University, Milan, Italy

“After interacting with GABV and getting to know their business model, it is inspiring to think beyond the existing culture in the banking sector. Having worked in a bank it was refreshing to see the norms challenged.”

                – Divya Patodia, Ivey Business School, Ontario, Canada

“Involving huge international bank into value based banking will be a very challenging and beneficial thing because huge bank groups have more capital capability and more relationship and management experience in local markets. Then they can help more people and don’t need to worry about lack of local relationships and responsibilities any more.”

                – Mengyao Ma, Shangai Lixin University of Commerce, Shanghai, China.

“I liked especially the collaboration between corporation and university working on practical issues that are supportive to the further development of value based banking. It is a perfect opportunity to apply what I have learnt. Such experience also inspires me to make a contribution, more or less, to change the world.”

                – Ying Zhou, University of Sidney, Sidney, Australia

“To put it simply, it is all about humanizing your environment and making it personal”.

                – Yves Patoux, University of Economics, Prague, Czech Republic.

Banking

Functions and Features of Offshore Banks to Know About

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Functions and Features of Offshore Banks to Know About 1

By Luigi Wewege, Senior Vice President, and Head of Private Banking of Belize based Caye International Bank

 

Have you been mulling over the idea of establishing an offshore checking or savings account? Maybe the idea of having an investment account with an offshore bank has been on your mind. If so, now is the time to explore these options more fully.

You’ll find that the features and functions of offshore banks have quite a bit to offer. Here are just a few examples to keep in mind.

Account Types That Are Familiar Plus More

One of the first things you’ll notice is that all of the domestic account types you’re familiar with are also available internationally. Along with those, you’ll find accounts that have some features that aren’t found at home. Some of them will help you grow your accounts or save money faster.

From time deposit accounts to special retirement funds, there’s something for just about everyone. Bank officials are happy to explain how each account type works and what it can do for you.

Competitive Interest Rates

Depending on how much you can deposit into an account, the interest rate that applies can be higher than what you receive at home. This is especially true if you opt for accounts that come with tiered interest rates. As you exceed and maintain certain balance levels, it’s possible to lock in higher interest rates.

Think of what this could mean if the plan is to save money for your retirement years. As you add to the balances and let them remain in the account, more interest is earned. Start that when you still have at least a couple of decades left to work full time, and the result could be a significant nest egg to use during those retirement years.

Easy Online Management

The days when managing offshore accounts required the post or some other slower method are gone. The best offshore banks provide online management to their clients. That means you can transfer funds between accounts with ease.

Think of how nice it would be to initiate a funds transfer that moves money from a domestic account to an international one. This can be done any time of the day or night. You will know when it posts to the account, often on the next business day. How much simpler could it be to get money in those accounts?

With the Best in Security Measures
Security is a priority with offshore banks. Data is encrypted correctly, account access is monitored, and there are plenty of safeguards in place. Other than authorized bank personnel and yourself, no one is getting into your accounts.

Top offshore banks evaluate and update security measures regularly. This makes it possible to remain ahead of the most recently launched threats and prevent hackers from accessing your funds.

Protection From Political and Market Upheavals

It’s no secret that political shifts and marketing changes impact the financial world. One way you can minimize the effect on your wealth is to house part of it in offshore accounts. Whatever is happening at home will not impact the funds you have placed in offshore accounts.

No matter what happens to your domestic assets, your offshore funds and holdings remain intact. Regardless of the losses you might incur at home, you’ll still have your offshore balances to help you get back on your feet.

Safeguard Against Legal Troubles at Home

No one is immune from being the defendant in a lawsuit. It could be a personal injury suit or a civil action against you. It could even be problems with a tax agency that leads to seizing your bank accounts or garnishing your wages. While it would be impossible to protect your domestic assets from these types of issues, your offshore assets are different.

In most instances, a judgment in a civil suit or a tax garnishment will not result in the seizure of any of your offshore accounts. They remain outside the jurisdiction of a domestic court.

A Wider Range of Investment Opportunities

Setting up accounts in the right offshore location allows you to take advantage of many investment opportunities that aren’t available at home. It’s not just the possibility of greater returns that captures your interest. The options themselves are broader than what you can access using any domestic banking or investment firm.

From real estate to currency trading, some options are likely to be of interest. Many of them can be managed through one or more arms of your international bank. Since many offshore banks have personnel who can provide information about investment opportunities, it’s easy to access factual data to help you decide if a particular investment fits in with your overall financial goals.

Possibly Superior Rates of Exchange When You Travel

Here’s something to consider if you tend to travel abroad regularly. When it comes to the exchange rate between different currencies, using your offshore checking account balance rather than a domestic one may be a better choice. That’s because there may be a more favorable exchange rate between your offshore account and the nation where you’re visiting.

A better exchange rate increases your buying power and lessens the overall cost of your trip. You’ll spend less on big-ticket items like hotels, air or rail travel, and meals.

Benefit from Opening an Offshore Bank Account

You don’t have to be rich to establish and grow offshore bank accounts. You’ll find banks that allow you to open an account with relatively modest balances and add to them with ease.

Over time, these balances help you achieve greater financial stability and ensure a more secure future.

 

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Banking

Banks in EU to publish world’s first ‘green’ yardstick from next year

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Banks in EU to publish world's first 'green' yardstick from next year 2

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Banks in the European Union would have to publish a groundbreaking “green asset ratio” (GAR) as a core measure of their climate-friendly business activities from next year, the EU’s banking watchdog proposed on Monday.

As the trend in sustainable investing gathers pace, regulators want investors to get more reliable information on a bank’s exposures to climate change as storms and other weather events affect the value of their assets and liabilities.

The European Banking Authority (EBA) said the ratio, put out to formal public consultation on Monday, will measure the amount of climate-friendly loans, advances and debt securities compared to total assets on a lender’s balance sheet to reach a percent figure.

“I believe it’s the first time regulators are asking for a green asset ratio,” said Piers Haben, EBA’s director of banking, markets, innovation and consumers.

“The numbers may well be single digit for banks at first and that’s why context will be important. When a bank talks about where it wants to be in 2030, that is going to be really interesting on the green asset ratio.”

The new EU “taxonomy” would be used to define which assetsare environmentally sustainable.

EBA said that many stakeholders have a legitimate interest in the physical and transition risks that banks are exposed to from climate change.

Banks are likely to face pressure from investors to show what steps they are taking to increase their GAR over time, though few lenders are expected to reach 100%.

The watchdog was responding to a request from the EU’sexecutive European Commission on how to implement upcomingrequirements on climate-related disclosures by banks.

The GAR would published in a bank’s annual report, starting from 2022 based on data up to Dec. 31, 2021.

Banks will also have to publish three other indicators showing the extent to which fees from advisory services, major trading operations and off-balance sheet exposures are derived from climate-friendly activities.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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SoftBank’s internet business to invest $5 billion to resist overseas tech giants

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SoftBank's internet business to invest $5 billion to resist overseas tech giants 3

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank’s internet subsidiary Z Holdings outlined plans on Monday to invest 500 billion yen ($4.7 billion) in technology over five years to resist an onslaught from larger overseas rivals.

The announcement follows the merger of its internet business Yahoo Japan with chat app operator Line, creating a $30 billion domestic internet heavyweight.

Z Holdings said it is targeting sales of 2 trillion yen and operating income of 225 billion yen in three years, as the COVID-19 pandemic boosts demand for online services.

Following a complex transaction, two thirds of Z Holdings shares will be owned by a new holding company, A Holdings, owned 50:50 by SoftBank Corp and South Korea’s Naver Corp.

Z Holdings remains a consolidated subsidiary of SoftBank. Naver was the previous majority owner of Line.

The CEOs of Z Holdings and Line, Kentaro Kawabe and Takeshi Idezawa respectively, become co-CEOs of the combined entity, reflecting the hybrid origin of the firm which straddles e-commerce, payments, advertising and chat.

Kawabe pointed to the breadth of those services, many of which are deeply embedded in the lives of Japanese consumers, as its defence against rivals like Google parent Alphabet and Amazon.com and their larger research budgets.

In an early indicator of efforts to save on costs, Z Holdings said it was looking to integrate Line’s QR code payment service Line Pay into peer PayPay, which SoftBank has promoted aggressively to attract consumers away from cash, in April 2022.

Z Holdings retains its listed status, one of a number of such firms among SoftBank’s domestic holdings, despite calls for Japanese firms to unwind such structures.

Z Holdings also controls online fashion retailer Zozo Inc and office supplies firm Askul Corp.

($1 = 106.5600 yen)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Christopher Cushing and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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