Bank leader sounds warning: culture message isn’t filtering down

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(Bloomberg) -- A senior global banking leader said he was shocked to discover that eight years after the financial crisis, junior staff members are still struggling to take to heart the message from the top about the firm’s culture.

A survey of junior bankers at the firm last year showed they had no idea what the bank’s message about integrity and strategy is, the senior banker, who asked not to be identified, told a gathering of reporters and banking executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Efforts by senior staff to cultivate an ethical culture at the firm over the past two years aren’t trickling down, the banker said. While managers are on cue, senior executives can only do about 10 percent of the work in adjusting objectives and targets, he added.

Public opprobrium and billions in fines for misconduct since the financial crisis have prompted leaders of banks including Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank AG to publicly vow to overhaul their corporate ethos. Davos regular Mark Carney, head of Britain’s central bank, said in October that bank executives who aren’t comfortable with personal responsibility that new U.K. regulations force on them probably shouldn’t be in their jobs.

Cheating dismissals

Last year, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. dismissed about 20 analysts in offices including London and New York after discovering they had breached rules on internal training tests, while JPMorgan Chase & Co. fired 10 employees for similar offenses, people familiar with the incidents said at the time.

Davos, the Alpine resort home to the annual gathering of the world’s political and corporate elite, has sometimes been the scene of banker-bashing. Carney told bankers in 2014 they should moderate their compensation with conduct was replacing capital as the key concern for regulators, people said at the time. Wall Street has also been a topic of the U.S. presidential race, with candidates from Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump criticizing the industry.

The senior banker said on Wednesday that he backs the Bank of England’s proposal that bankers potentially lose their bonuses even after they switch firms, if they are responsible for losses at their previous employer. The banker described the practice as the worst loophole in compensation rules.

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