As Dorothy Parker said, “If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at who he gives it to.” Nowadays, in the city of London, he’s not giving too much away. The financial crisis of 2008 and its ensuing regulation put paid to all that. Nevertheless, like latter-day Dick Whittingtons seeking their fortunes, graduating MBA’s with few resources, debts to pay and high aspirations still seek positions in the financial service firms in high numbers. As a royal road to economic betterment it’s hard to beat. It still holds that the money available over time far outweighs anything one could earn in a so-called “normal job.” But here’s the rub. Lawmakers now have a vested interest in ensuring that worshippers at the Temple of Mammon are reined in. High risk / high reward is as outmoded at last year’s iPhone. Bonuses are now deferred, paid mainly in shares (folks, the value of securities can go up as well as down), and in any case before the big Euros kick in (what’s that?) you may well be 38 years old, your youth rapidly fading in the rear view mirror, hair sprouting where it’s unwanted and unneeded. So is it worth it?
As a veteran of an American investment bank, long since moved on to other pastures the answer lies in a grey zone. Working on the trading desks of big city firms is girls’ own fun, and boys too. The pace is fast, minds are sharp:it’s like having your Twitter feed in your face all day long, but with consequentiality. For the ambitious and the smart the products are sophisticated and creative. On the client side, there is no better place to cut your teeth in sales where the competition is vast, margins razor thin and your ability to differentiate relies on innovative collaboration. What lies behind all that coal face is pretty cool too. So your days will fly by in a blur and before you know it you will be in the thick of your mid-life crisis. And you may not be rich. If you are one of the lucky ones, your new-found wealth may force you to consider a different Act II. But for many, in this generation of joiners your ability to grasp the filthy lucre will probably outpace you into your forties. That’s a fair chunk of life to give up. In my work, I spend a lot of time dealing with unhappy people. Usually they are quite wealthy. Often their misery rests on something like the following: “I am wealthy, I missed my kids growing up, and my wife ran off with the tennis coach”. Or as John Lennon said, “ Life’s what happens when you are doing other things”. So go after the money, because it’s still there, if you must. But make sure you check in with yourself at least once a year and look in the mirror to ask yourself: “Is this worth it?” Money can be found many places, but time only elapses. It’s later than you think!
Why bonus’s and the promise of them pump the blood through the banking system – Neil Gaught – Neil Gaught& Associates
It’s time for the annual consumer media condemnation of ‘Bankers’ Bonuses’. The public loves to hate bankers, probably because banker bonuses were cast as one of the root causes of the 2008 global financial crisis. Painted as rewarding greed and excessive risk, the government and the regulators have all been drawn into the debate for and against bankers bonuses. At the heart of the issue are the banks themselves. Banks that suffer from negativity in terms of brand and reputation face a dilemma ‘Pay the bonuses and attract the professional expertise that will help you recover your reputation but face ongoing damage to your brand and reputation by paying the bonuses’.
So here’s the conundrum. What is the purpose of a bank? To ‘let people achieve their ambitions’? To ‘deliver expert relationship banking’? To ‘work with clients as strategic partners’? Let’s be frank here – most people believe that the purpose of bank is to make money. And lets be honest – banks make money out of money. That’s the job. And how do you incentivize staff to do a great job in a bank – you give them money. You do what the organisation does – you reward money making with money. That is the traditional way things are done. For many, that is why they are in banking – to make money. The bonus culture sits at the heart of investment banks. Bonus’s and the promise of them pump the blood through the system.
Reputation, however, is judged on what you do rather than what you say you are going to do. It’s based on action and not words. Image is of course important. We are nearly all suckers for something that looks new, even if fundamentally it’s not – Apple be warned! Image and words play a role particularly in the early stages of any relationship – but over time it is who you really are, what you think, what you do and how you do it that really matters. Ultimately our Judgement of each other, of the products and services we use and the organisations who provide them is shaped by our experiences.
Crucially these experiences – positive or negative – can be shared within nano seconds with millions of people. The information technology that powers banks also connects us all also allows us to judge together and to take action together. We can switch from one provider to another in most sectors pretty rapidly. Of course it’s a pain and those that stand in the way of the general direction of travel can delay and disrupt our freedom to choose, but inevitably this will change. One of the greatest benefits of technology is the empowerment of individuals to make choices but to thrive transparency and trust need to reign. The corporations that get this, that understand the consequences of standing in the way are now scrambling to show how transparent they can be. They are busy setting up ethics committees, defining new values and engaging agencies to bring to life supporting stories that demonstrate through every media channel available that it’s not all about profit after all – its about purpose. It’s not about shareholder value its about making customers happy.
So in a world that is increasingly saying what matters now are values and ethics the greatest challenge banks face is how they balance a bonus culture with an ethics culture. Can you have both? I believe that it is possible but it will take major systemic reform and it will take time, effort, determination and above all leadership. It is often touted that recognition is more important than reward. Within the banking sector I think that what is recognised (and what is not) is one part of a puzzle that will take some time to solve.
Graham Ward is a consultant at Kets de Vries Institute (http://www.kdvi.com)
An Adjunct Professor of Leadership at INSEAD Business School in France, his expertise is in leadership, high performance teams, group dynamics, team dysfunction and change. His doctoral dissertation, published in 2013 is a theory of small group executive coaching using a psychodynamic approach. Teaching modules include the psychology of leadership, the application of fair process in teams, sustainable relationship building and developing high performance teams and culture in organizational life.
He teaches regularly at INSEAD on a number of executive programs and
is the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre Coaching Practice Director for the Transition to General Management (TGM) and LFR (Leading for Results). Graham has also worked in the same role on many company specific programs including KPMG, Microsoft, Pfizer, Daimler Chrysler, TNK/BP, HSBC, Ernst and Young and SAP. Moreover he has also worked as visiting faculty on the Advance Management Program at Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden, Moscow Higher School of Economics and ESMT in Berlin.
Outside of INSEAD, he specializes in coaching C-suite executives and consulting around team dysfunctions Graham spent 22 years in finance, 16 of which working for Goldman Sachs, where for seven years he co-led the European Equity business. In 2000, Graham spearheaded an initiative to introduce a Global Leadership Development office that he led for three years. At GS he was head of diversity for the Division and led the Women’s Committee from inception, also instigating other minority networks.
Graham was speaker at the 2007 EMCC annual conference on the subject of Group Leadership Coaching and in 2001 on the subject of Mentoring for Change. In 2013 he spoke at The School of Management Science, India on Spiritual Leadership. He is an affiliate member of the APA (American Psychological Association), and a member of the ISPSO (International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations).
Graham received his Ph.D. from the Vrije University in Amsterdam in 2014. He holds an M.Sc. and Diploma from HEC/INSEAD (2002) in Clinical Organizational Psychology. In 1994 he received a Diploma of Investment Management from London Business School.
He is licensed to use the MBTI, The Leadership Circle, GELI, LAQ, Personality Audit and Cultural Audit. Graham was contributing author to the books Coach and Couch, the Psychology of Making Better Leaders published in 2007 and the Coaching Kaleidoscope published in 2010. He authored the academic paper Towards Executive Change (2008) and The Use of Transitional Space (2009).
He is currently a board member of Hampstead Capital Global Hedge Fund, listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and Senrigan Capital based in Hong Kong.
Privately he has worked with senior executives at McKinsey, Siemens, Bristol Myers Squibb, Axa, Aviva, HSBC, Tesco, AstraZeneca, Deutsche Bank, E.On, UBS, Shell and BP among others. McKinsey &Co retains him in their European leadership coaching pool.
Graham, 50, lives on the Stockholm Archipelago with his wife and four children He travels extensively, recently visiting North Korea and Syria amongst other places.
Neil Gaught is founder and CEO of Neil Gaught& Associates (www.neilgaught.com)
Over the past 20 years, Neil has worked on strategic brand reputation and positioning projects for Standard Chartered Bank, Merrill Lynch, De Beers, OECD, the World Bank, CRS, CARE, Alliance for Financial Inclusion and Global Communities. With a career as both an independent consultant and also at a senior level, his strategy has been implemented globally at WPP’s Brand Union and Interbrand.
His expertise spans corporations, NGOs, government institutions and start-up enterprises. CEOs and senior leadership teams engage him for brand reputation management, positioning, culture change, operational decisions, staff engagement and communications.
Neil’s strategy has been developed over many years and his first-hand global experience and cultural awareness has helped him refine and apply his proven approaches for clients in over 40 countries.
During a period in New Zealand he advised many top corporations and public-sector bodies on brand strategy and reputation management including AMI, Contact Energy, Kordia, Air New Zealand plus various start-up enterprises and local/national Government institutions.
The Psychology Behind a Strong Security Culture in the Financial Sector
By Javvad Malik, Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4
Banks and financial industries are quite literally where the money is, positioning them as prominent targets for cybercriminals worldwide. Unfortunately, regardless of investments made in the latest technologies, the Achilles heel of these institutions is their employees. Often times, a human blunder is found to be a contributing factor of a security breach, if not the direct source. Indeed, in the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, miscellaneous errors were found vying closely with web application attacks for the top cause of breaches affecting the financial and insurance sector. A secretary may forward an email to the wrong recipient or a system administrator may misconfigure firewall settings. Perhaps, a user clicks on a malicious link. Whatever the case, the outcome is equally dire.
Having grown acutely aware of the role that people play in cybersecurity, business leaders are scrambling to establish a strong security culture within their own organisations. In fact, for many leaders across the globe, realising a strong security culture is of increasing importance, not solely for fear of a breach, but as fundamental to the overall success of their organisations – be it to create customer trust or enhance brand value. Yet, the term lacks a universal definition, and its interpretation varies depending on the individual. In one survey of 1,161 IT decision makers, 758 unique definitions were offered, falling into five distinct categories. While all important, these categories taken apart only feature one aspect of the wider notion of security culture.
With an incomplete understanding of the term, many organisations find themselves inadvertently overconfident in their actual capabilities to fend off cyberthreats. This speaks to the importance of building a single, clear and common definition from which organisations can learn from one another, benchmark their standing and construct a comprehensive security programme.
Defining Security Culture: The Seven Dimensions
In an effort to measure security culture through an objective, scientific method, the term can be broken down into seven key dimensions:
- Attitudes: Formed over time and through experiences, attitudes are learned opinions reflecting the preferences an individual has in favour or against security protocols and issues.
- Behaviours: The physical actions and decisions that employees make which impact the security of an organisation.
- Cognition: The understanding, knowledge and awareness of security threats and issues.
- Communication: Channels adopted to share relevant security-related information in a timely manner, while encouraging and supporting employees as they tackle security issues.
- Compliance: Written security policies and the extent that employees adhere to them.
- Norms: Unwritten rules of conduct in an organisation.
- Responsibilities: The extent to which employees recognise their role in sustaining or endangering their company’s security.
All of these dimensions are inextricably interlinked; should one falter so too would the others.
The Bearing of Banks and Financial Institutions
Collecting data from over 120,000 employees in 1,107 organisations across 24 countries, KnowBe4’s ‘Security Culture Report 2020’ found that the banking and financial sectors were among the best performers on the security culture front, with a score of 76 out of a 100. This comes as no surprise seeing as they manage highly confidential data and have thus adopted a long tradition of risk management as well as extensive regulatory oversight.
Indeed, the security culture posture is reflected in the sector’s well-oiled communication channels. As cyberthreats constantly and rapidly evolve, it is crucial that effective communication processes are implemented. This allows employees to receive accurate and relevant information with ease; having an impact on the organisation’s ability to prevent as well as respond to a security breach. In IBM’s 2020 Cost of a Data Breach study, the average reported response time to detect a data breach is 207 days with an additional 73 days to resolve the situation. This is in comparison to the financial industry’s 177 and 56 days.
Moreover, with better communication follows better attitude – both banking and financial services scored 80 and 79 in this department, respectively. Good communication is integral to facilitating collaboration between departments and offering a reminder that security is not achieved solely within the IT department; rather, it is a team effort. It is also a means of boosting morale and inspiring greater employee engagement. As earlier mentioned, attitudes are evaluations, or learned opinions. Therefore, by keeping employees informed as well as motivated, they are more likely to view security best practices favourably, adopting them voluntarily.
Predictably, the industry ticks the box on compliance as well. The hefty fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past year alone, including Capital One’s $80 million penalty, probably play a part in keeping financial institutions on their toes.
Nevertheless, there continues to be room for improvement. As it stands, the overall score of 76 is within the ‘moderate’ classification, falling a long way short of the desired 90-100 range. So, what needs fixing?
Towards Achieving Excellence
There is often the misconception that banks and financial institutions are well-versed in security-related information due to their extensive exposure to the cyber domain. However, as the cognition score demonstrates, this is not the case – dawdling in the low 70s. This illustrates an urgent need for improved security awareness programmes within the sector. More importantly, employees should be trained to understand how this knowledge is applied. This can be achieved through practical exercises such as simulated phishing, for example. In addition, training should be tailored to the learning styles as well as the needs of each individual. In other words, a bank clerk would need a completely different curriculum to IT staff working on the backend of servers.
By building on cognition, financial institutions can instigate a sense of responsibility among employees as they begin to recognise the impact that their behaviour might have on the company. In cybersecurity, success is achieved when breaches are avoided. In a way, this negative result removes the incentive that typically keeps employees engaged with an outcome. Training methods need to take this into consideration.
Then there are norms and behaviours, found to have strong correlations with one another. Norms are the compass from which individuals refer to when making decisions and negotiating everyday activities. The key is recognising that norms have two facets, one social and the other personal. The former is informed by social interactions, while the latter is grounded in the individual’s values. For instance, an accountant may connect to the VPN when working outside of the office to avoid disciplinary measures, as opposed to believing it is the right thing to do. Organisations should aim to internalise norms to generate consistent adherence to best practices irrespective of any immediate external pressures. When these norms improve, behavioural changes will reform in tandem.
Building a robust security culture is no easy task. However, the unrelenting efforts of cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems obliges us to press on. While financial institutions are leading the way for other industries, much still needs to be done. Fortunately, every step counts -every improvement made in one dimension has a domino effect in others.
Has lockdown marked the end of cash as we know it?
By James Booth, VP of Payment Partnerships EMEA, PPRO
Since the start of the pandemic, businesses around the world have drastically changed their operations to protect employees and customers. One significant shift has been the discouragement of the use of cash in favour of digital and contactless payment methods. On the surface, moving away from cash seems like the safe, obvious thing to do to curb the spread of the virus. But, the idea of being propelled towards an innovative, digital-first, cashless society is also compelling.
Has cashless gone viral?
Recent months have forced the world online, leading to a surge in e-commerce with UK online sales seeing a rise of 168% in May and steady growth ever since. In fact, PPRO’s transaction engine, has seen online purchases across the globe increase dramatically in 2020: purchases of women’s clothing are up 311%, food and beverage by 285%, and healthcare and cosmetics by 160%.
Alongside a shift to online shopping, a recent report revealed 7.4 million in the UK are now living an almost cashless life – claiming changing payment habits has left Britons better prepared for life in lockdown. In fact, according to recent research from PPRO, 45% of UK consumers think cash will be a thing of the past in just five years. And this UK figure reflects a global trend. For example, 46% of Americans have turned to cashless payments in the wake of COVID-19. And in Italy, the volume of cashless transactions has skyrocketed by more than 80%.
More choice than ever before
Whilst the pandemic and restrictions surrounding cash have certainly accelerated the UK towards a cashless society, the proliferation of local payment methods (LPMs) in the UK, such as PayPal, Klarna and digital wallets, have also been a key driver. Today, 31% of UK consumers report they are confident using mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay. Those in Generation Z are particularly keen, with 68% expressing confidence using them.
As LPM usage continues to accelerate, the use of credit and debit cards are likely to decline in the coming years. Whilst older generations show an affinity with plastic, younger consumers feel less secure around its usage. 96% of Baby Boomers and Generation X confirmed they feel confident using credit/debit cards, compared to just 75% of Generation Z.
Does social distancing mean financial exclusion?
As we hurtle into a digital age, leaving cash in the rearview, there are ramifications of going completely cashless to consider. We must take into consideration how removing cash could disenfranchise over a quarter of our society; 26% of the global population doesn’t have a traditional bank account. Across Latin America, 38% of shoppers are unbanked, and nearly 1 in 5 online transactions are completed with cash. While in Africa and the Middle East, only 50% of consumers are banked in the traditional sense, and 12% have access to a credit card. Even here in the UK, approximately 1.3 million UK adults are classed as unbanked, exposing the large number of consumers affected by any ban on cash.
Even when shopping online – many consumers rely on cash-based payments. At the checkout page, consumers are provided with a barcode for their order. They take this barcode (either printed or on their mobile device) to a local convenience store or bank and pay in cash. At that point, the goods are shipped.
There are also older generations to consider. Following the closure of one in eight banks and cashpoints during Coronavirus, the government faced calls to act swiftly to protect access to cash, as pensioners struggled to access their savings. Despite the direction society is headed, there are a significant number of older people that still rely on cash – they have grown up using it. With an estimated two million people in the UK relying on cash for day to day spending, it is important that it does not disappear in its entirety.
Supporting the transition away from cash
Cashless protocols not only restrict access to goods and services for consumers but also limit revenue opportunity for merchants. While 2020 has provided the global economy with one great reason to reduce the acceptance of cash, the payments industry has billions of reasons to offer multiple options that cater to the needs of every kind of shopper around the world.
Whilst it seems younger generations are driving LPM adoption, it is important that older generations aren’t forgotten. If online shops fail to offer a variety of preferred payment methods, consumers will not hesitate to shop elsewhere. With 44% of consumers reporting they would stop a purchase online if their favourite payment method wasn’t available – this is something merchants need to address to attract and retain loyal customers.
UnionPay increases online acceptance across Europe and worldwide with Online Travel Agencies
- UnionPay International today announces that two of Europe’s leading travel companies, Logitravel and Destinia, have started accepting UnionPay.
- This acceptance will enable users of the groups’ travel websites to make purchases using UnionPay payment methods.
The acceptance partnerships between the OTAs and UnionPay began in July 2020 for customers across 13 European countries and another 90 countries and regions worldwide. The European countries covered by the agreements include the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Ireland. The brands covered by these acceptances include Logitravel.com and Destinia.com which together deliver more than 8.5 million worldwide travel bookings each year covering flights, hotels, holidays, car hire and other experiences.
With over 8.4 billion cards issued in 61 countries and regions worldwide, UnionPay has the world’s largest cardholder base and is the preferred payment brand for many Chinese and Asian expatriates and students based in Europe, as well as an increasing number of global customers. These cardholders are also particularly attractive to the two OTAs. Despite the impact of Covid-19, Logitravel and Destinia expect to see the demand for travel across the European continent as well as that between Europe and Asia return to growth in the coming years. They are now placing significant focus on offering more payment options and smoother payment services to meet this demand.
The partnerships incorporate UnionPay’s ExpressPay and SecurePlus technology, which will ensure seamless transactions for the customers, contained within a single process through the relevant websites. UnionPay’s technology also provides for the requirement to authenticate transactions under the EU regulation Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) ensuring that sites will be compliant as soon as the relevant countries apply the requirements.
Wei Zhihong, UnionPay International’s Market Director, said: “This is a major partnership with two of Europe’s leading online travel companies. Logitravel and Destinia are brands which have been at the forefront of e-commerce for many years and we are very excited to be working with them to extend their reach to new audiences. This highlights the work that we have carried out in ensuring that our technology provides effective solutions for the biggest e-commerce sites both in Europe and around the world. We look forward to announcing many more similar agreements in the near future.”
Jesús Pons, Chief Financial Officer at Logitravel Group said: “UnionPay has always been on our radar, and since travel has become a crucial part of its development, Logitravel felt it important to develop this important partnership. It really was an obvious decision for Logitravel since both companies share a passion for e-commerce and emphasising the payment experience for their customers.”
Ricardo Fernández, Managing Director at Destinia Group said: “We believe that this is the beginning of a really strong relationship. Our discussions with UnionPay in reaching this partnership have demonstrated their understanding of the needs of major online merchants and their ability to deliver the highest quality systems. We look forward to working together on further partnership as we move forward.”
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