This paper reports findings from investor engagement into corporate culture at UK listed banks. In 2014 and 2015 interviews with bank practitioners revealed the following seven elements as fundamental to improving bank culture; simplification of the business, corporate purpose, organisational culture, staff in the business, customer experience, board balance, and focus and engagement by the Chair of the board. The study designed baselines to capture where banks are in absolute and relative terms in relation to the seven elements. Culture performance over the 24 months of the study was examined. Banks that made most improvement during the investigation activated culture predominantly within the business by empowering the department most apt to handle it. Centring the culture programme within the business was associated with a focus on the middle and the grassroots level of the organisation. Banks that made least improvement activated culture principally ‘from the top’. Centring the culture programme at the top was associated with a focus on control, conformance, and structure. The finding of relatively greater performance when culture programmes were activated within the business contrasts sharply with recommendations from regulators and conventional wisdom that the establishment of corporate culture is necessarily a top-down exercise.
- investment management
- pension funds