After almost eight years, the Financial Services Culture Board (FSCB) is closing its doors in 2023. Our board has taken the decision that the FSCB, while solvent, is not viable as a going concern over the medium term and therefore cannot continue operating through the 2023 membership year.
As a not-for-profit, voluntary membership body we have been committed since our inception to working with member firms – individually and collectively – to raise standards of behaviour and competence across the sector, for the benefit of customers, clients, the economy and society as a whole.
In the interests of good governance and responsibility to our members, we need to be confident at the start of any membership year of our income for that full year. This is because our work, by its nature, consists of projects running over many months. At the start of 2023, while solvent, we are not confident that our income will be sufficient to take our work through the full year and we have therefore taken the very difficult decision to close.
But the job is far from done. Much has changed since the global financial crisis, including within the sector. Organisational culture in financial services, as elsewhere, is continually evolving and managing culture is an ongoing challenge, not a box to be ticked. Creating and maintaining good workplace cultures is hard. It demands curiosity, humility and leadership. It requires data that allow priorities to be established, progress to be tracked, issues identified and responsibility and accountability taken; and it requires a willingness to ask questions that may have uncomfortable answers, and a readiness to listen and learn so as continually to improve.
We are proud of the work we have undertaken with so many member firms, individually and collectively, over the past eight years, as well as of everything we have had the privilege of working on with so many other firms, academics, regulators, industry bodies within financial services and elsewhere, and a host of other organisations in the public and private sectors, both in the UK and globally.
We have played our part in promoting action on mental health at work, speaking up, skills, inclusion and many other issues that matter to all of us, whether as employees, consumers or businesses.
Having developed a rigorous and credible approach to assessing culture that defines a ‘good’ culture as one that achieves good outcomes for customers and clients, we have built a dataset on organisational culture in financial services that did not exist before and still exists in no other sector or jurisdiction. From these data we have built a picture of workplace culture – of intra- and inter-firm differences, and changes over time – in firms and across the sector. We have reported to boards on individual firm findings, and publicly at an aggregate level.
And we have gone beyond holding up a mirror to provide guidance, conduct behavioural trials and test interventions, convene working groups and roundtables on areas of collective challenge, bring in expertise and speakers from other sectors, always shaping our work to the needs of firms, their customers and their clients.
While we are unable to continue this work in 2023, the importance of firms continuing to focus on culture – and with actions informed by evidence – is clear; not least in a sector and a labour market adapting to ongoing economic, technological, regulatory and social change, and to new ways of working.
For some firms, the challenge is to change aspects of their culture; for others, to maintain their cultures while everything around them is changing. Our experience has shown the value of external independent and evidence-based support and challenge to leadership teams and boards, whatever the context of the individual firm.
Managing workplace culture is not a task that can be finished; it is an ongoing responsibility. In 2023 it is more important than ever. And it is a responsibility that firms individually and the sector must meet.
As we come to the end of our work, we would like to recognise and extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to those many individuals and organisations that have been part of this initiative. To the FSCB team and Board, past and present; thank you for your dedication, hard work, expertise and professionalism. To our founding firms and all our member firms, clients and associates, past and present; thank you for your support and ideas and above all for your open and honest commitment to sharing learning and experience for the benefit of customers and clients across the sector. And to the regulators, industry bodies, academic partners and other organisations, here and outside the UK, with whom we have worked and collaborated over the years, thank you.
24 January 2023