The Certificate in Professionalism and Ethics Blog

  • Giles Cuthbert
  • 28 May 2019
  • Blog | Professionalism and Ethics | Blog

In my last blog, I spoke about responsibility lying at the heart of ethics. To be responsible, we must be aware of any given situation we find ourselves in, understand it fully, and have sufficient control to allow us to shape outcomes.  As I discussed, apply those ideas to banking in a tech and data-driven age and some interesting questions arise.  Do bankers have sufficient control? Can we reasonably blame bankers when things go wrong in such complex environments? Are the concepts of ethics and responsibility incompatible with modern-day banking?

Customers, of course, rightly expect their bankers to behave ethically, to take responsibility and to be accountable.  In short, they expect bankers to be professional.  The last decade has shown the impact of unprofessional and unethical practice and underlined the role of banking in the global economy and in local communities.    

As Managing Director of the Chartered Banker Institute, with specific responsibility for the development of professional learning, it’s my role to support the creation of learning that enables bankers to act ethically – and to understand and embrace responsibility.  The Institute recently launched the Certificate in Professionalism and Ethics which is designed to develop bankers’ understanding of professionalism and ethics and the implications for both in a digital age.

One of the core roles of the Institute, as the professional membership body for bankers in the UK and globally, is to help create an environment where bankers develop their critical thinking skills.  This includes how ethical behaviour is encouraged and embedded via codes of conduct, regulation and leadership.  It also means exploring ethical demands and dilemmas, especially those posed by current trends such as digital innovation and environmental pressures. The Institute is one of only a few bodies to bring together ethics and digital banking – we see it as our role to inform and frame the debate around these complex areas.

The Certificate in Professionalism and Ethics is one way in which we are informing the debate.  Those completing the Certificate will be challenged to:

  • critically reflect on the moral considerations that apply to bankers which derive from the nature of bank products and services, and the ways in which professionalising banking could help ensure those responsibilities are fulfilled
  • differentiate between a range of theories and approaches to ethical thinking and assess the extent to which these could help resolve ethical dilemmas and ethical arguments
  • examine the impact on banks, their customers, and their employees, of a range of legislation and regulation on current banking practice and the extent to which it is designed to rebuild trust and confidence in banks
  • differentiate between several views on the responsibilities of a business, and assess key ethical issues and challenges facing the banking sector
  • critically assess a range of theories relating to the ethics of leadership and corporate governance in banking
  • critically evaluate, from an ethical perspective, the impact, and potential impact, of environmental factors and technological developments on current and future banking practice.

I’d argue that bankers who think about issues such as these - and who understand the theories which underpin ethics and responsibility - are in a far better position to navigate modern banking successfully and professionally.  I believe ethics and responsibility are compatible with banking; indeed, they define how the service should be delivered.