Satanic dances in the financial markets

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Contrary to the beliefs of many, Satan is not the opposite of God.

According to the bible, Satan was a cherub created by god. However, some time before the creation of mankind, Satan rebelled against God and took one third of the angels with him into rebellion.

Rebelling angels

Regular rumblings in the financial press  indicate to me that some of the rebelling angels, a.k.a. Satan’s followers are still at large and flourishing in the power rooms of banks/ financial institutions.  Some recent headlines:

Deutsche Bank in record $2.5bn fine over interest rate manipulation
FCA fines Barclays £72m for poor handling of financial crime risks
Five global banks to pay $5.7 billion in fines over rate rigging
£20 billion British Money Laundering scam goes through Eastern Europe, Ends in HSBC, RBS, UBS and Citibank

Whether it is LIBOR manipulation, wrong selling/ indiscrete sales practices, subversion of market practices, poor monitoring of financial crime/ laundering ‘dirty’ money, or another exotic cocktail; it is clear that the situation in the financial markets is far from comfortable.

Conduct Risk and Organisational Culture

A plethora of rules, regulations and guidance have been issued by the regulators. Yet, the pro’s have found the loop holes, broken the rules and engendered instability in the financial markets.

In 2014 alone, the FCA brought in a record £1,471,431,800 in fines, more than twice the previous year. It is now clear that that purely focusing on the establishment of rules without focusing on outcome for the customer / stakeholder will not be effective.

‘Maybe it has always been the case but it appears that when the dust settles and the enquiry is over the causes of the failure boil down more often than ever to culture’, says Peter Richardson – paper on ‘Risk Culture’, Institute of Risk Management.

The importance of conduct risk has been raised by the financial crisis.  A few thousand regulators cannot assume the responsibility for the manipulative conduct for the millions employed in the sector. Individual conduct is sharply in focus.

Organisational Culture

The culture of the organisation significantly influences individual conduct. Senior executives and directors of the organisation have a key role in setting the tone.  There is good chance that their behaviour would influence that of the employees.

Culture is formed by the repeating behaviour patterns, although individuals may also perceive culture differently based on the practices and ethical standards of the division they work for. Organisational artifacts and symbols also impact organisational culture.

Remuneration and Conduct

Improper remuneration structures incentivise poor conduct and unnecessary risk-taking. It is fairly well known that for too long, banking staff have been paid for doing the wrong things. Rewards will need to be rationalised and balanced with penalties for failure, if the precedent is to change.

Cult following                                                                                                                                                     

Members of the LaVey’s church in California are said to invoke Satan not as a supernatural being, but as a symbol of man’s ego. They live by the Satanic statements and are focussed on the ‘self’ as the centre of their universe. All morals and values are seen as subjective human constructions.

Whether or not there is value in their beliefs, or a place for such a cult, whether or not it is really representative of the larger society; it is apparent that in the financial markets, the dangerous dance with Satan continues.

Will someone stop the music?

© Anu Maakan 2016

(Disclaimer: all views published here are the personal views of the author and do not represent those of any organization).

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Author: Anu Maakan

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this page. I'm a change specialist, business blogger and art enthusiast. I'm focussed on topics such as corporate governance, compliance & control, metrics, performance management, human capital, financial regulation, leadership. Find me on twitter @AnuGolden, Or email moradocreative@outlook.com

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