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Ethical business practices should be pursued with enthusiasm – Governor

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Economics Ethics Professionalism
Ethics Professionalism

Dr Ernest Addison, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, says ethical business practice should be pursued relentlessly and aggressively by all industry players.

He said in doing this, “we must adopt a collaborative approach, involving every individual in the institution, so that ‘doing the right thing’ becomes embedded in the work culture.”

Dr Addison was speaking in a speech read for him by Dr Bernard Otabil, Office of Ethics and Investigations at the 27th National Banking and Ethics Conference in Accra organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), Ghana.

The Conference is on the theme: “Redefining Professionalism in Banking Through Ethics.”
The CIB also launched a newly redesigned flagship Chartered Banker (ACIB) curriculum and an Ethics Certification Programme 

He said each bank must aim to create a values-driven culture, agreed on by both  the leader and leadership team, which should serve as a constant reference within the bank’s systems and processes.  

“When the culture within the banking sector is values-based and values-driven, stakeholders, including depositors, will likely align their values to that of the bank,” he added.  

Dr Addison said a strong ethical organizational culture supported by ethical decision-making and conduct would emerge and enhance professionalism within the industry.   

The Governor said the Banks, Special Deposit Institutions (SDIs), and Payments Service Providers (PSPs) Fraud reports, the Bank of Ghana issues yearly, give strong signals that their focus on ethics and ethical behaviour should be strengthened. 

“A single case of fraud, involving an employee of a bank or any financial institution, affects the whole industry and weakens public confidence in the industry,” he said. 

He said although the 2022 Banks, SDIs, and PSPs Fraud report showed a decline in staff involvement in fraud cases to 188 in 2022 from 278 in 2021, the persistence of these unethical acts among employees of Banks and SDIs remained a concern.  

“As reported, most of the incidents involved bank staff and had to do with cash theft (cash suppression) from customers’ accounts and fraudulent withdrawals on accounts of customers,” he added.  These trends show the need to educate and inculcate ethical behaviour among the staff of financial institutions. 

The Governor said raising awareness of ethical issues, providing banking professionals with ethical training, and fostering a culture of ethics were important building blocks to establishing the right culture within banking institutions. 

He said this would also help banking professionals develop the knowledge and skills to navigate complex ethical dilemmas as well as anticipate and deal properly with ethical blind spots.  These new professional development programmes would help create the required specialised knowledge and improve competency for the benefit of the industry. 

But, more importantly, it would help banking professionals imbibe the right ethical values to contribute to building the right ethical culture in the various institutions. 

He said the focus on professionalism and ethics being championed by the Institute inspires a lot of hope for the industry. 

The Governor said the importance of ethical behaviour in banking and financial markets had never been as relevant as it was today because of the moral and economic efficiency issues involved.

“This industry thrives on trust and the lack thereof threatens the stability and sustainability of the entire financial sector with adverse economic consequences,” he added.    

Mr. Benjamin Amenumey, President of CIB Ghana, said the industry had witnessed some external and internal events, which had impacted the confidence of the industry significantly.

He said the banking sector clean-up which was necessary to COVID-19 and then the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme and some of these events were not within their control. 

He said the recent Bank of Ghana fraud Report showed some alarming trends even though there were a reduction in some variables.

“This significant concern is what the Institute is trying to address, and it is in that light that our theme “Redefining Professionalism in Banking through Ethics” is appropriate and timely,” he added.

He said this year also marks the 60th Anniversary of the Institute and their discussion would focus on: Ethics, Giving voice to values, Responsible Banking and Sustainability.

“For our industry to be sustainable and the country to develop. We need professional bankers and they needed to be trusted bankers to promote the interest and activities of the industry,” he said.

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