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Business News of Friday, 25 October 2013

Source: B&FT

Improper conduct of bankers undermines confidence

The numerous complaints about improper conduct of bank staff, especially the rural banks and microfinance institutions, undermine the confidence customers repose in banks, Mr. Millison Narh, first Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), has said.

“The Banking Supervision Department continues to receive numerous complaints about improper conduct of bank staff, especially the rural banks and microfinance institutions, and this certainly undermines the trust and confidence customers repose in banks.

“I must say that it high time we put professionalism at the forefront of our banking activities to promote a healthy banking culture among the populace and also ensure fair competition among all players in the banking sector.

“Inappropriate behaviours of the Ghanaian banker could inhibit deposit mobilisation and wealth creation,” Mr. Narh told bankers at the launch of the Bank of Ghana Association of Chartered Bankers (BOGACB) in Accra under the theme: “Ensuring Financial Stability, The Role of the Ghanaian Banker”.

He said: “Professional standards in banking, not only in Ghana but throughout Africa and in many countries, are not high enough, and most people seem to agree that there is a professional culture in banking -- probably until recent times -- whereby on a daily basis we see disclaimers in the newspapers on bank employees, which presumably have some fraudulent undertone.”

This, he said, calls for rapid and drastic measures to salvage the image of the profession. “Trust is key to financial service delivery, hence customers and other stakeholders in the banking sector would entrust their deposits to banks only if they have confidence in the banks.”

Mr. Narh explained that the sustainability and survival of the banking system depends solely on all-round professionals, of which chartered bankers are expected to play a key role.

He indicated that the current information technological environment has revolutionised banking within the past decade, hence the need to have skilful professionals in banking institutions.

“As the dynamism of the banking sector changes, key management staff of banks need to have the right banking knowledge and professionalism in order to ensure prudence and efficiency. “It is my belief that banks would encourage their employees to join professional bodies, including the Chartered Institute of Bankers, in order to shape them for the complicated banking world ahead of us,” he said.

He recounted some of the best practices in the past whereby new recruits of banks were taken through the basics of banking, including soft skills development, banks’ value systems among others in order to prepare them for the banking career. He commended the foresight of chartered bankers at the Bank of Ghana for their pioneering role in the formation of the association, which is expected to be replicated across all banks in the country.

“As the world recaps the consequences of slack lending practices, unfair competition and insider dealings, the question that bothers people is whether the institute has a role to play in shaping the skills and competences of the Ghanaian banker to deliver better customer service, provide the right advisory services, ensure high loan quality and provide the appropriate leadership training in order to ensure that latter day banking firms such as microfinance institutions get the requisite manpower to ensure their survival,” he said.

He said that over the past decades, there has not been enough support from banks and regulators for the idea that bankers should be qualified members of professional bodies to meeting professional standards.

This has signalled the central bank to take on a number of reforms to ensure financial stability, including enactment of various laws and capacity-building to assist bank employees meet professional standards. The banking system continues to dominate the financial system in Ghana; hence professionalism among bank staff is likely to be transmitted throughout the entire financial system.

He urged the Institute of Bankers to collaborate with the BOGACB to initiate continuous professional development programmes to ensure its members meet the skills and competences of this fast-growing financial world.

The association, with a current total number of 71 members of staff who are associates of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, aims to promote the interest of professional bankers and facilitate continuous professional development. The association will also seek to create a platform where members can share knowledge through lectures covering specific topical issues.

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