Australia, famous for its coral reefs and koala bears, is also home to some of the world’s most brazen banks. The Royal Commission that spent months investigating the actions of the nation’s top banks uncovered a hornet’s nest of misconduct and customer exploitation. Needless to say, remedial steps are in effect, and the banks involved have been left with little choice but to take swift corrective measures.
I recently spoke my mind on the challenges that women face in the banking sector. Just the day after, Anne Boden, founder of the UK’s Starling Bank, did the same. Our comments hit the headlines. We’d clearly struck a nerve.
For several years now, anti-financial crime (AFC) regulations have prohibited the operation of shell banks. A shell bank is a bank that has no physical presence in the jurisdiction where it is incorporated or licensed and no affiliation with a regulated financial group.
Diversity and inclusion have recently become top goals in the strategic policies of many banks, but how is execution matching up? Research continues to expose large gaps between good intentions on paper and good outcomes in practice. Diversity and inclusion are more than nice-sounding words; when realized, they boost profitability. Banks that go no further than prioritising these goals in mission statements miss out on playing the ace.
Interbank offered rates, the interest rates at which banks lend and borrow in the interbank market, are being replaced by risk-free rates, partly due to past rate-rigging scandals. In Europe, what is in itself a tricky conversion has been made even more complicated by the implementation of the wider EU Benchmark Regulation. Market participants must not delay in preparing to meet the transitional challenges as the deadline draws nearer.
With all of the new developments in banking these days, it’s easy to lose touch with what really matters: the customer experience. To enhance their customers’ journeys and earn their loyalty, research shows that bank staff need to develop effective communication channels, listen and then learn what matters most to customers. What’s important to them may not be precisely what bank employees expect.
Traditional banking hasn’t worked well in some areas of the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, where a large percentage of the population has been financially underserviced. New, innovative fintechs have been only too happy and qualified to fill the void. By expanding access, fintechs are promoting economic and social growth in the region, especially in high-tech hubs South Africa and Kenya, which are setting an example for others to follow.
Basel III, a regulatory framework designed with the goal of enhancing international financial stability in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, was tailored to banks in advanced economies. However, regulators in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) are also embracing these standards, even though doing so may pose challenges to their financial development. How can Basel III be made to work for EMDEs? A new CGD Task Force report makes several recommendations.
The Central American nation of Costa Rica is regarded as economically sound, although rising government debt has raised alarm bells with credit-ratings agencies. Costa Rica’s financial industry is flourishing, and Banco BCT is at the centre of the action. With strong presence in Costa Rica and neighbouring Panama, BCT offers top-notch banking services. In our interview, Mr. Alvaro Saborío, CEO of Grupo Financiero BCT, provided insight into this financial powerhouse’s human-centred strategy.
The sub-Saharan Africa business boom has lost a lot of its momentum in recent years, but mergers and acquisitions have picked up the slack. All across the area, banks are merging as an avenue to improve their balance sheets and gain market share in the lackluster-growth environment. Although this approach may work to achieve some goals, there are downside factors that banks should consider before jumping into the M&A lifeboat.