In 2016, Wells Fargo came under a firestorm of scrutiny when federal regulators revealed to the general public that employees at the banking giant had created–and charged clients for–millions of bank and credit card accounts without customer permission. News outlets reported extensively on the possible consumer implications and footage of Senator Elizabeth Warren’s tough questioning of Wells Fargo’s now-former CEO John Stumpf went viral.
This news event cast a dark shadow over the banking industry at large, exacerbating an already palpable image problem which has left public approval and trust in banking organizations languishing below 30 percent. Besides wondering whether or not banks had their best interests at heart, consumers — and Senator Warren — had to ask: what could be so wrong with the culture of banking that on-the-floor employees would feel compelled to engage in such questionable activity?
Some in the banking industry pointed to performance-focused banking practices that emphasized sales over consumer trust; Wells Fargo employees alleged that it was a company-wide culture of performance over people, led from the top-down, that forced workers to either engage in unethical account management practices or otherwise face termination.
Following this scandal, Wells Fargo has worked extensively to rebuild a relationship of trust both with their customers and with their employees. As a Computer Technician at Fidelity Bank, I definitely understand the myriad pressures that fall on the shoulders of banking employees–but more than that, I understand that, by putting people first, we can meet those challenges head on, making sure that bank employees never feel like they have to make a choice that will compromise the integrity of their company, or the trust of the clients they serve each day. Let me tell you how.
Otterbox CEO Curt Richardson writes that concrete, meaningful values should serve as foundational guides for any business. Moreover, he writes that these beliefs should be adopted, understood and committed to throughout the entirety of an organization — from the C-Suite to the floor and beyond. I couldn’t agree more.
Understanding the core values of your business and communicating them to your team will give each employee a guidepost that will help them to make well-informed, quality decisions that positively impact your business and your clients time after time.
At Fidelity Bank, our company culture is centered around six core principles: integrity, community, dependability, excellence, longevity and accountability.
These six principles help us to remember that our client’s trust is at the heart of everything we do, and that the relationship we have with our community must always stand on pillars of honesty, good faith and cooperation. Knowing this makes all the difference in the quality of communication we have with our clients, the quality of the service we offer, and the longevity of the relationships we have with the people we serve.
As mentioned earlier, public trust in the banking industry remains somewhat anemic. While this certainly provides a challenge, I believe that with every challenge there exists an opportunity.
For that reason, Fidelity puts community at the forefront of our efforts. Our team members understand that we are more than just a financial institution that provides a transactional service — we are also a part of a larger world, and the services we offer our clients are directly tied with their aspirations, hopes and passions.
Our community focus ties into the clear-cut communication we have with our clientele as well as to our charitable contribution program, which supports local non-profits in their efforts to serve. Programs like this help our team members to keep a fresh and optimistic perspective about the work that we do. When I walk into the office each day, I know that I’m working at a good place, and that my efforts support something bigger than myself.
Banking institutions that want to combat lagging public trust and build a company culture that is focused on accountability, positive-impact and enthusiastic performance would be wise to keep the communities they serve in mind.
No one element of building a positive company culture is necessarily more important the other. Instead, each piece comes together to form something that is hopefully greater than its individual parts–and that includes the employees that make up a team.
At Fidelity Bank, we understand that no employee is simply a cog-in-the-wheel. Everybody contributes something to the daily operation of our business that allows us to do what we do — excellently. However, knowing that is only half the battle.
Fortunately, we also understand that our employees need to know how important they are to us, which is why we build a practice of regular feedback — and recognition — into our company culture.
Using YouEarnedIt, our team members are able to compliment and reward one another for performance — using encouragement of good behavior as a motivation for performance rather than a negative reinforcer like the threat of termination. This creates an environment where people are excited about doing their best — rather than fearful of what might happen if they don’t reach their goals. The result? Happy employees who are, not coincidentally, high performers.
Banking can be a challenging industry, and there is still a lot of work to do in healing the bruised feelings that consumers have about banking in general. That said, institutions like Wells Fargo and the industry at large are not without options to make things better.
I believe that positive perceptions of banking — and positive company cultures that create happy clients — start at the top and permeate the business at every level.
Leaders in the banking industry should take a hard look at their core values, their relationship to the communities they occupy, and the way that they conduct employee feedback. Starting there, I believe, will lead our industry to build stronger ties to the community; happier, higher-performing employees that don’t have to cut corners; and a better future in the eyes of the public for banks at large.
Let's get engaged!
Sign up to get the latest tips and info on employee engagement right in your inbox.