Assessment Results2019

OVERVIEW OF THE BSB ASSESSMENT

The BSB’s Assessment is intended to provide member firms with the evidence, support and challenge to help them achieve and maintain high standards of behaviour and competence, individually and collectively. Underpinning this dual approach is a framework of nine characteristics, both ethical and professional, that we would expect to lead to good outcomes for customers, members, clients, employees or investors and the economy and society as a whole; characteristics that we would therefore expect to be associated with any good culture in banking.

Our Assessment does not assess firms against a template of what a ‘good’ culture looks like. There is no uniquely good (or bad) organisational culture against which all others can be measured. Firms with very different cultures can produce equally good or bad outcomes for customers and clients and more broadly.

We do not, therefore, set out to measure or rank culture directly. Rather, we ask how far each of our nine characteristics is demonstrated by the firm and relative to other firms. We would expect a firm that strongly exhibited our nine characteristics to be better equipped and more likely to service its customers, members and clients well, than one in which these elements were lacking.
The nine characteristics against which firms are assessed are honesty, respect, openness, accountability, competence, reliability, responsiveness, personal and organisational resilience, and shared purpose.

Shared Purpose

If these characteristics appear obvious and fundamental, that is precisely as it should be. They are characteristics that customers, members or clients should be able to take for granted as being not only present, but present to a very high degree in any bank or building society that they entrust their money to or deal with, irrespective of the firm’s size, business model, market segment, age, ownership structure or location. Furthermore, given the importance of the banking sector to the economy and the systemic nature of the sector, the public as a whole also has the right to expect the same of every bank or building society operating in the UK, whether or not they engage with it personally and directly.

Assessing firms against our nine characteristics and exploring areas of both strength and weakness, reveals issues relevant to both individual firms and to firms collectively. At the individual firm level, the results of the Assessment are given to each board and discussed with the firm. The BSB does not publish firms’ Assessment reports. It is the responsibility of each board and executive team to decide how to act on and share (e.g. with employees and regulators) the contents of their report.

Members firms join the BSB and engage in the Assessment in order to learn and continuously improve. Participation in the Assessment, with its cross-firm benchmarking and detailed reporting, demands a readiness on the part of board members and the executives to be self-critical and to ask questions of themselves and their employees that may elicit unexpected and unwelcome answers. A far more comfortable option would be to avoid asking such questions in the first place. BSB membership is voluntary; it is also challenging.

While individual firm reports are owned by the firms concerned, the BSB is committed to publishing evidence of what it finds at the cross-firm level, and identifying the issues and themes that in turn inform its policy work.

Repeated annually, the Assessment provides boards with an impartial, evidence-based picture of the culture of their firm; not only over time and across different business areas, but also relative to other firms. These multiple perspectives, combined with other internal and external data used by firms, equip boards and executive teams better to gauge progress, set priorities and learn from good practice both within the firm and (including through our policy and insights work) across firms.

The Assessment approach was developed by the BSB, working with leading academics in the fields of organisational psychology and ethnography from the London Business School and the London School of Economics, and with strategy consultants. It comprises a quantitative element (generated from an employee Survey) and can include a further qualitative dimension (including, for example, focus groups, interviews and board questions) that allows the Survey results and any broader themes to be explored in more detail. All participating firms engage in the Survey, the data from which provides benchmarked results by firm and business area.

Each firm receives its own Survey results, including (assuming that response rates were high enough to be statistically representative of the relevant populations, and, where at least seven firms could be compared) a comparison of its scores on each characteristic and question, with the range of scores of all participating firms. These comparisons are provided not only at firm level, but also, where relevant to the firm, for retail banking, commercial banking, investment banking and functions, and at the next level down (e.g. within retail banking, benchmarks are provided for retail branch, retail other, private banking and business banking). Comparisons in each case include a range and quartile against the equivalent category across all relevant firms, though without revealing the identify of any individual firm. With their results displayed in this way, boards and executive teams can see specifically where they are performing well against their peers, and where there is room for progress. Repeating this annually, using the same methodology, allows them to also gauge progress over time.

In addition to the Survey, some firms opt to take part in qualitative elements allowing us to explore themes of particular interest in greater depth. In addition to their Survey report, these firms receive a thematic report containing an in-depth analysis of the findings from this work. We continue to explore new measurement techniques to ensure that the exercise remains valuable for firms and for their customers, members, clients and employees.

SCOPE OF THE BSB ASSESSMENT IN 2019

194

,584

employees sent the Survey
81

,664

survey responses
29
firms surveyed
53
focus groups and qualitative sessions held
20
executive and NEDs interviewed
PARTICIPATING FIRMS
2017

Aldermore Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Buckinghamshire Building Society, Cambridge and Counties Bank, Charity Bank, Citi, The Co-operative Bank, CYBG, Ecology Building Society, Handelsbanken, HSBC, Ipswich Building Society, Lloyds Banking Group,Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, OneSavings Bank, Paragon Bank, Penrith Building Society, RBS, Santander, Standard Chartered, State Bank of India, Tesco Bank, Unity Trust Bank

2018

Atom Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Buckinghamshire Building Society, Cambridge and Counties Bank, Charity Bank, Citi, The Co-operative Bank, CYBG, Ecology Building Society, Handelsbanken, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide, OneSavings Bank, Paragon Bank, Penrith Building Society, RBS, Redwood Bank, Santander, Standard Chartered, State Bank of India, Tesco Bank, Unity Trust Bank, Vanquis Bank.

2019

Aldermore Bank, Atom Bank, Bank of Ireland, Barclays, Buckinghamshire Building Society, C. Hoare & Co, Cambridge & Counties Bank, Charity Bank, Citi, Darlington Building Society, Ecology Building Society, EFG Private Bank, Handelsbanken, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Morgan Stanley, Nationwide Building Society, OneSavings Bank, Penrith Building Society, RBS, Rabobank, Redwood Bank, Reliance Bank, Santander, State Bank of India, Tesco Bank, The Co-operative Bank, Unity Trust Bank, Vanquis Bank

Firms that took part in the thematic component of the Assessment are highlighted in bold.

BSB EMPLOYEE SURVEY

Positively phrased questions

Negatively phrased questions

HONESTY
  1. I believe senior leaders in my organisation mean what they say.
  2. In my organisation I see instances where unethical behaviour is rewarded.
  3. My colleagues act in an honest and ethical way.
  4. It is difficult to make career progression in my organisation without flexing my ethical standards.
RESPECT
  1. At my work I feel that I am treated with respect.
  2. At my work people seek and respect different opinions when making decisions.
  3. In my organisation Risk and Compliance are both respected functions.
  4. In my organisation we are encouraged to follow the spirit of the rules (what they mean, not just the words).
  5. I believe my organisation puts customers at the centre of business decisions.
OPENNESS
  1. In my experience, people in my organisation are truly open to review and feedback from external sources.
  2. In my organisation people are encouraged to provide customers with information in a way that helps them make the right decisions.
  3. In my experience, people in my organisation do not get defensive when their views are challenged by colleagues.
  4. In my organisation I am encouraged to share learnings and good practices with others.
  5. If I raised concerns about the way we work, I would be worried about the negative consequences for me.
ACCOUNTABILITY
  1. In my experience, people in my area clearly understand the behaviour that is expected of them.
  2. I believe senior leaders in my organisation take responsibility, especially if things go wrong.
  3. I see people in my organisation turn a blind eye to inappropriate behaviour.
  4. I see people in my organisation try to avoid responsibility in case something goes wrong.
  5. I feel comfortable challenging a decision made by my manager.
COMPETENCE
  1. In my experience, people in my organisation have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs well.
  2. In my role, I am encouraged to continually learn new skills and improve my role-specific knowledge.
  3. I am confident in the ability of people in my area to identify risks.
RELIABILITY
  1. When my organisation says it will do something for customers, it gets done.
  2. I see the people I work with go the extra mile in order to meet the needs of our customers.
  3. When people in my organisation say they will do something, I can rely on them getting it done.
RESILIENCE
  1. In my experience, people in my organisation are good at dealing with issues before they become major problems.
  2. My organisation focuses primarily on short-term results.
  3. I often feel under excessive pressure to perform in my work.
  4. Working in my organisation has a negative impact on my health and wellbeing.
RESPONSIVENESS
  1. I believe that my organisation responds effectively to staff feedback.
  2. Our internal processes and practices are a barrier to our continuous improvement.
  3. I believe that my organisation responds effectively to customer feedback.
  4. I believe that my organisation encourages innovation in the best interests of our customers.
  5. I have observed improvements in the way we do things based on lessons learnt.
SHARED PURPOSE
  1. My organisation’s purpose and values are meaningful to me.
  2. There is no conflict between my organisation’s stated values and how we do business.

The BSB Employee Survey consists of 37 questions. Questions 1-36 each correspond to one of the nine characteristics of the Assessment framework. Question 37 is a free-text box asking respondents to enter three words describing their firm. We may also choose to add further questions in any one year to explore particular themes in greater depth.

The questions explore employees’ perceptions, observations and beliefs about their firm’s culture, drawing on personal experience. Questions are both positively and negatively framed to reduce the risk of acquiescence bias (the tendency of Survey participants to agree with questions). In developing and refining the Survey we conducted cognitive testing with a number of employees across business lines at a diverse set of firms.

The Survey is run in each firm on a consistent, stand-alone basis to avoid firm-specific framing effects that might bias answers and provides statistically representative results to firms across different business lines and functions. Employees completing the Survey do so completely anonymously and results are presented in a way that avoids any risk of attribution.

Questions 1-36 of the Survey use a five-point Likert scale (i.e. Strongly Agree, Somewhat Agree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Somewhat Disagree, Strongly Disagree). To compare results across firms, we convert answers on these into scores on a scale of 0 to 100, for both questions on their own, and when they are grouped into the nine characteristics.

We sample the Survey at the level of individual business lines and functions. While this allows us to run the Survey on a sample basis, most firm choose to run it on a census (i.e. whole firm) basis. Our sampling approach is designed to provide statistically representative results to firms at individual business lines and functions, and benchmark comparable areas of different firms.

The consistency of the Survey questions (and the nine characteristics of the underlying framework) is central to enabling a dynamic picture to be built up over time, both at and within individual firms and across firms.

2019 ADDITIONAL SURVEY QUESTIONS
SPEAKING UP
  1. Have you wanted to raise concerns at your organisation over the last 12 months? (Please select any that apply.)
    • No, I have not wanted to raise concerns at my organisation over the last 12 months
    • Yes, relating to actions not in the best interests of customers, clients or members
    • Yes, relating to actions that damage market integrity
    • Yes, relating to ignoring internal policies and procedures
    • Yes, relating to sexual harassment
    • Yes, relating to bullying
    • Yes, relating to discrimination
    • Yes, relating to workload
    • Yes, relating to performance management
    • Yes, relating to colleagues’ competence and capability
    • Yes, relating to something else (please specify)
    • Prefer not to say
  2. [Only asked of respondents who answered above that they had concerns.]
    In the previous question you answered yes to having wanted to raise a concern at your organisation over the last 12 months. Did you raise your concerns about this issue? (If yes, please select the one issue that concerned you most.)

    • No, I have not raised a concern at my organisation over the last 12 months
    • Yes, relating to actions not in the best interests of customers, clients or members
    • Yes, relating to actions that damage market integrity
    • Yes, relating to ignoring internal policies and procedures
    • Yes, relating to sexual harassment
    • Yes, relating to bullying
    • Yes, relating to discrimination
    • Yes, relating to workload
    • Yes, relating to performance management
    • Yes, relating to colleagues’ competence or capability
    • Yes, relating to something else (please specify)
  3. [Only asked of respondents who answered ‘Yes’ that they had raised their concerns.]How did you raise this concern? (Please select any that apply.)
    • Raised with your line manager(s)
    • Raised with senior management (not including your line manager)
    • Raised with HR
    • Raised with a designated ‘speak-up contact/champion/guardian’ at your firm
    • Raised with a trade union representative
    • Raised with other colleague at your firm
    • Called an internal hotline
    • Emailed a generic ‘speak-up’ mailbox at your firm
    • Used a ‘speak-up’ web-based service or mobile application provided by your firm
    • Raised with a third party contracted by your firm
    • Raised with an external body / organisation (outside your firm)
    • Other (please specify)
    • Prefer not to say
  4. Only Asked of respondents who selected a channel in the previous questions.]How satisfied are you with how your concern was dealt with?
    • Very satisfied
    • Somewhat satisfied
    • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied
    • Somewhat dissatisfied
    • Very dissatisfied
    • Don’t know
DECISION-MAKING
  1. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement: ‘I feel that my work makes a positive difference to others’? Please consider the following groups when answering such as your family, work colleagues, your line manager(s), senior leaders in your organisation, shareholders/owners, customers/clients/members, the local community and society at large.
    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree
    • Neither agree nor disagree
    • Somewhat disagree
    • Strongly disagree
  2. [Only asked of respondents who answered ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Somewhat agree’ that their work makes a positive difference to others].In the previous question you agreed that your work makes a positive difference to others. Who do you see as the beneficiaries? (Please select any that apply.)
    • Your family
    • Work colleagues
    • Your line manager(s)
    • Senior leaders in your organisation
    • Your organisation’s shareholders / owners
    • Customers / clients / members
    • The local community
    • Society at large
    • Other (please specify)
  3. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement: ‘I feel that my work has a negative impact on others’?
    Please consider the following groups when answering such as your family, work colleagues, your line manager(s), senior leaders in your organisation, shareholders/owners, customers/clients/members, the local community and society at large.

    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree
    • Neither agree nor disagree
    • Somewhat disagree
    • Strongly disagree
  4. [Only asked of respondents who answered ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Somewhat agree’ that their work has a negative impact on others].
    • Your family
    • Work colleagues
    • Your line manager(s)
    • Senior leaders in your organisation
    • Your organisation’s shareholders / owners
    • Customers / clients / members
    • The local community
    • Society at large
    • Other (please specify)
  5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement: ‘I feel that other people value me for my work’?Please consider the following groups when answering such as your family, work colleagues, your line manager(s), senior leaders in your organisation, shareholders/owners, customers/clients/members, the local community and society at large.
    • Strongly agree
    • Somewhat agree
    • Neither agree nor disagree
    • Somewhat disagree
    • Strongly disagree
  6. [Only asked of respondents who answered ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Somewhat agree’ that other people value them for their work].In the previous question you agreed that other people value you for your work. Who do you see as valuing you for your work? (Please select any that apply.)
    • Your family
    • Work colleagues
    • Your line manager(s)
    • Senior leaders in your organisation
    • Your organisation’s shareholders / owners
    • Customers / clients / members
    • The local community
    • Society at large
    • Other (please specify)
SLEEP AND FATIGUE
  1. On average, how many hours of sleep do you get in a 24-hour period?[Free text question]
  2. During your working time, how often do you feel fatigued or very tired?
    • Every day
    • Almost every day
    • 3-4 times per week
    • 1-2 times per week
    • 1-2 times per month
    • Rarely or never
    • Prefer not to say

GATHERING QUALITATIVE EVIDENCE

We gather additional, qualitative evidence for firms that take part in the thematic components of the BSB Assessment. We use this evidence, together with results from the Survey, to produce independent and objective reports for the boards of firms.

There are three main ways in which we gather qualitative evidence, though we continue to explore new methods and techniques.

Board questions: The BSB Chairman writes to the Chairs of each participating firm, asking questions about the firms’ priorities for organisational culture, the firm’s progress against these and about specific themes emerging from our findings.

Interviews with selected board members and executives: Interviews are semi-structured, covering a range of topics relating to cultural changes and priorities at the firm and specific themes emerging being explored in the Assessment.

These interviews help us to understand individual board member and executives’ perspectives on their organisation, along with a sense of what they feel is going well and what if anything they feel needs to change. We use these perspectives to inform our Assessment report that each board receives for its firm.

Focus Groups and employee discussions: We typically run focus groups and employee discussions with junior and middle-ranking employees to discuss their organisation’s culture and to explore causes and explanations at their firm for various themes (e.g. speaking-up). The feedback that we receive from employees is often extremely detailed and rich, containing valuable insights on a range of issues that relate to culture, behaviour and competence at individual firms, and across the banking industry.

TOPICS EXPLORED WITH FIRMS

2016

Topics covered at firms:

A number of firm-specific issues (including both challenges and strengths) emerging from the Survey data

2017

Topics covered at firms:

  • The perceived mismatch between a firm’s stated values and the way in which some employees see business being done
  • Helping to develop a culture of accountability and responsibility rather than of blame
  • Promoting personal resilience and wellbeing among employees
2018

Topics covered at firms:

  • Customer focus
  • The relationship between control functions and business areas in Investment Banking
  • Gender diversity
  • The impact of a changing sector
  • Firm-specific issues emerging from previous Assessments
2019

Topics covered at firms:

  • Decision-making
  • Technology and culture

NEXT SECTION: KEY FINDINGS