Ethics and fair practices in the banking industry
A friend of mine, a senior banker, attended a bankers’ dinner several years back. The Guest of Honour was none other than Jackson Tai. In his speech he stressed on the need for ethical and fair practices in the banking industry and he lamented at the lack of it. Some banks were big culprits in violating all the rules of decency to take advantage of a situation, of clients and customers, just to shore up their bottom lines. I was kind of huh, how could respectable bankers be so unscrupulous? I choose to take a neutral line, half believing until proven otherwise.
One of the ugly practices of the banks was to steal clients from competitors by undercutting on the commission. Some bankers even stooped to such practices within the same bank, stealing clients from their peers and associates. It was nauseating that bankers could behave in such despicable and unethical manner in an industry that places great importance to honesty, sincerity, trust, ethics and fair play. This cannot be true either.
What was silly was that the undercuttings ended with the banks getting lesser returns than before from existing clients that were already customers of the banks. And according to this banker, the top management of banks did not even know that they have short changed themselves while throwing away all the good practices and human decency, to look good for some individuals or departments or the bank. Further, for doing so, they exposed themselves to anti competition practices that could bring forth a lot of embarrassment if reported in the media. But these were in the past. Thank God.
Would history repeat itself, that banks would compromise their integrity and reputation to steal clients in unfair and unethical ways? Hopefully this will not happen again as the bankers were supposedly dignified professionals and men and women of great honour, trustworthy and respectability. Indiscretion of such nature is taboo in the industry and beyond them.
I rather be naive and innocent to believe that bankers will be above unethical practices and will live to their reputation as honourable and reliable professionals of the most important industry that touches all industries. I still believe in the perfect picture, of wholesome goodness, that all things are well beneath the superficiality.
I believe that no bankers would compromise ethics and morality to indulge in silly practices that are short sighted and could bring them down with dishonour just to shore up the bottom line.
I believe that the Competition Commission of Singapore would be watching such violations closely and that they know that everything is fine.
I believe that what is happening in the US where banks would cheat their clients by recommending them rubbish products that banks wanted to get rid off, or churning the accounts of their clients for profits would not happen here.
I also believe that before the Dodd Frank Law comes into effect, our banking system will do the necessary to observe the decency and propriety that this law is supposed to do and avoid a conflict of interest the law intends to stop.
I also believe that the banking industry is in good hands, run by honourable men and women.