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New group to promote better culture, conduct among banks here

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Culture and Conduct Steering Group has representatives from banks, MAS, ABS

Amid a global erosion of trust in the banking industry, a new group has been formed to promote better culture and conduct among banks in Singapore.

The Culture and Conduct Steering Group has representatives from 13 banks, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) and is chaired by DBS Bank Singapore country head Shee Tse Koon.

Group members from the banks have roles in business, risk management, compliance and human resources in their own organisations.

MAS and ABS said in a joint statement yesterday that the group's aims are to identify best practices and share them with banks to facilitate their adoption; monitor trends and identify emerging conduct and culture issues within the banking industry; and collaborate with MAS on initiatives to promote strong culture and conduct, such as performing industry self-assessments or updating codes of behaviour.

They highlighted a recent report on banking conduct and culture by the Group of Thirty - an independent global body of economic and financial leaders - which said industry-wide dialogue and sharing of best practices are key to a stronger and healthier banking industry.

The formation of the group is part of MAS' efforts to work with banks to strengthen ethical business practices that safeguard customers' interests.

MAS assistant managing director of banking and insurance Ho Hern Shin said good culture and conduct builds customer trust, lays the foundation for sustainable business growth and enhances the financial strength of banks.

ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon also said the new group will help ensure integrity and ethical behaviour.

"It builds on our existing practices to embed these values deeply among our member banks, so that as an industry, we will achieve higher standards of culture and conduct for our customers," she said.

Mr Shee said that although there has not been significant misconduct in Singapore so far, forming the group is a proactive step "to stay ahead in inculcating a sound culture, which focuses on ethics and putting customers first".

Culture and conduct of an organisation can influence the way products are designed and sold, for example.

Mr Shee said the group will meet at least once a quarter, though ad hoc meetings may be called if there are significant industry events worldwide.

"Singapore is a leading financial centre and hub," he said.

"Hence, it is important for us to be proactive in ensuring ongoing customer confidence in our financial ecosystem.

"To achieve this, having sound culture and high standards in conduct are fundamental to maintaining public trust."