Sounding the alarm

A whistleblowing system offers employees at one Nordic bank a new way to report their ethical concerns, and is one of several trust-earning measures

The most important asset of a bank is its values and the trust of the public at large. The trust is the license to operate and without it – well, we have all seen the unspeakable happen to more than one financial giant. In these times of bank bashing and financial turbulence, not least in Europe, trust is an asset to treasure.
As easy as it is to lose trust, it is harder to gain it. It has to be earned, as mothers say. Slick marketing will not deliver it; on the contrary, trust can never be superficial. It is not a matter of cosmetics; it is the essence of a company, the values and employees living the values in their daily endeavours. That is why Nordea’s way of building trust starts from within, from the inside out. The base is the bank’s values that translate into procedures, rules and instructions that govern the everyday work processes. But instructions must never re-place values. Too often in financial history, common sense and good intentions have surrendered to internal rules and narrow-minded incentives.