Heidi Mosbek, Head of Group Business & Technical Audit, Generali
How is the work to improve conduct and culture impacting financial services firms?
As in any strategic decision, there is an upfront investment to develop and embed a strong, mature and prudent conduct or compliance culture in a business. If we think about improving risk and compliance culture in a business that used to view risks as something owned and managed in the Risk, Compliance or Audit Functions, a change in that view and operation will be perceived as challenging. Employees and management will be expected to establish a stronger control environment in the business lines, and take effective measures to mitigate identified risks to the business, working closely with the control functions. The control functions also need to improve their understanding of the business and learn to speak the same language – or to translate “risk phases” to explain what can go wrong, or how this issue can harm the business or customers.
What are the best ways to encourage staff to engage with the conduct agenda in their day-to-day activities?
A clear tone at the top needs to clearly express “why” we want our staff to change and “what” the expectations are of leaders’ and employees’ behaviours and achievements. It is key that the benefits are explained, e.g. that improving conduct and the effective management of risks is not solely to meet the requirements of the control functions, but that it is a tool to make the business strong and sound, to the benefit of customers and shareholders.
What are the most powerful ways that firms can improve their conduct?
It is important to involve the people who actually work in the specific areas that need to be improved. A pure top down approach with limited possibility to have a say and impact on changes in processes and routines can potentially lead to disengagement and less effective actions. Involve day-to-day operations, and empower people to identify gaps, suggest simple solutions and take actions.
Why will you be speaking at ECN’s Conduct Risk Summit, and what do you hope to get out of the event?
I look forward to meeting a lot of people, who will each bring a different background and experience; and to discussing and sharing views on topics relevant to a day to day operation.