Bankers bash themselves as survey reveals toxic culture

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The Independent Online

Britain's banking industry is still operating a toxic culture which showers riches on those who indulge in bad behaviour and where bullying is rife – according to its own staff.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) today publishes the results of a devastating survey of the financial sector, which suggests that industry leaders' claims that banking has reformed aren't being reflected on the ground.

It comes as the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards finalises its hotly-anticipated final report that is expected to call for sweeping changes in industry practice, with some members pushing for a break-up of Royal Bank of Scotland.

The poll by YouGov found that eight out of 10 bankers still believe that some people in their organisation enjoy excessive rewards. Even a majority of senior managers agree.

Disturbingly, almost two thirds of those polled across the financial sector believe some people in their organisations are incentivised to behave badly through their reward structures, with a similar number bemoaning the secrecy surrounding what top bosses get paid.

It also found that as many as a fifth of those polled had experienced either bullying or undue pressure to act in ways "that are counter to their personal ethics or the interests of customers".

Only half of bankers and just over 40 per cent of finance professionals generally believe there has been any initiative by bosses to effect a change in culture. Peter Cheese, CIPD chief executive, admitted in an interview with The Independent that the sector had a long way to go before it could say real change had been secured.

"We have not cracked it yet," he said. "Things are happening, but these results demonstrate how hard it is to bring about a change in culture."

He added: "It is a good thing that this is being recognised and talked about. It is an absolute truism that change comes from the top."

Since the end of the financial crisis both Barclays and RBS have paid huge fines over the involvement of their traders in attempts to rig Libor interest rates. Lloyds is thought to be another company in the Financial Conduct Authority's crosshairs.

HSBC is not, but it paid nearly $2bn (£1.3bn) to US authorities and was put on probation for acting as a conduit for dirty money and sanctions busting.

Perhaps unsurprisingly against that backdrop, fewer than one in three financial-sector workers outside of senior management said they were proud to work in the sector.

The CIPD's report was based on an online survey of 1,026 UK employees working in banking, brokerage and investment and insurance, conducted between 26 April and 30 April.

Of those, 495 respondents were from the banking sector, 295 from insurance and 237 from the brokerage and investment industries.