Over the last few years many of the institutions that have been trusted by generations of Australians have been brought into disrepute by various scandals, illegal activities and unethical behaviour. The banking royal commission last year highlighted extremely poor behaviour in the four big banks.
It was within this context, and with a pragmatic attitude born of years in school leadership positions, that I took up the role as Director with Bank First. I had read the various value statements of Bank First and was cognisant of the numerous edicts from the banking royal commission suggesting that culture is set from the top - by the Board and Senior Management.
Bank First’s stated values include that:
- we listen to our customers.
- we do all we can to meet their needs.
- we stand out by being authentic and honest.
- we are proud to do the right thing by our customers.
Attendance at Board meetings and strategic planning sessions with other Directors and the Senior Management Team has convinced me that at the highest level these values are evident - the interests of customers are always the paramount consideration. I wanted to see these values enacted in practical ways - how the espoused values permeate to dealings that staff have with customers on a daily basis.
Recently a long term customer of Bank First died suddenly. Philip Gardner was a respected retired principal who mentored many within the teaching profession. Soon after Phil’s death, his wife, Gabrielle, published a piece describing her experiences untangling the couple’s financial affairs. It contrasted the service she received from Bank First with that provided by one of the big four banks. At the larger bank the joint credit card was immediately frozen, apparently without concern for the numerous automatic direct debits that were declined. Gabrielle wrote that at Bank First “the scene was very different and in the cool serenity of their building in Hawthorn East I was treated with all the care and kindness I could have hoped for and a hundred problems were made to go away”.
Bank First was founded by a group of teachers with the vision to create a financial institution that would deal with members with “care and compassion”. They would be pleased to see this vision carried forward today in the way that staff interact with Members. As a new Director I am encouraged to see this compassionate focus evident at all levels within Bank First.