A company’s culture should centre around its ethics and principles, which should be well-known and practiced by everyone who works there. This is of course easy to say, but it takes consistent effort.

Evidencing culture is a difficult task at that. How do you consistently prove what your company culture is? It isn’t something that is necessarily easily observed. Some company culture is consistent with high ethics and good morale, while some offices may fear senior management and turn a blind eye to misconduct. The latter scenario is of course one that raises concerns and is an ongoing issue to remove entirely. Compliance should not be something fearful – and if you fear it, you should question what you are doing wrong. We have rules or guidelines in place to keep order and it should never be an option to skirt around the requirements to avoid compliance involvement.

There is some perception that involving the compliance department in projects means they are likely to be delayed, but with as much regulation as exists locally for financial services companies to adhere to, it’s a major risk to negate compliance. Part of company culture standard practice should be to include compliance in decisions, as well as insist on compliance with the rules across the company.

As there are so many regulations to contend with, having cracks in your culture can be a costly problem – maybe not immediately, but the truth tends to come out in the end. Imagine a crack on a building; it gets worse the more you ignore it. A robust repair makes for a solid structure you can trust and the same is true within a business. Having no cracks in your culture limits concerns.

Keeping company culture consistent is a team effort

We know that trust in a financial services brand is essential. Consumers increasingly expect ethical behaviour from their service providers. With so many more of us working from home, and operating online, culture and values count even more. Some adjustments may be needed, and a stricter policy for company conduct required. Your policy should be reviewed periodically as it may need adjustments as new risks to the company emerge.

Where intellectual property is concerned, it is especially important to operate in an environment of trust. There are so many examples of why a company needs its entire staff on the same team. To illustrate, cyber risks are higher than ever, so having strict rules around operating online within the company will ensure a layer of protection, combined with the right, updated software. Employees should never allow outsiders access to systems or share private emails about the company – sensitive data shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Mandatory training of staff needs little explanation. All staff need to go through the basic elements of legal and regulatory requirements, which includes the company policy on ethics and conduct. This should be on the priority list. Keeping company culture top of mind ensures a stronger, more resilient company, which is vital in these tough economic times, coming out of the pandemic.

Article by Richard Rattue, MD of Compli-Serve SA