Risk WATCH with Alberta Quarcoopome: The practical side of ethics in banking—the true key to banking success (II)

Alberta Quarcoopome

Dear readers, my previous article looked at the foundation of banking successes which depend basically on ethics and professionalism. Forgive me for the audacity to allot all types of unethical acts on every desk in a bank. However, it is also important to note that these are practical scenarios that may happen or is happening on the ground. Placing your ears “on the ground”, “shining your eyes,” listening to stories from the grape-vine, and having an open door policy becomes tools for self-audits.

If you are a leader, this is the time to keep an open mind to avoid any surprises. Can I have your permission to continue my stories, some of which are slightly exaggerated, and with some elements of humour?

Madam Executive Assistant

How do you see yourself in the bank? You may have all the secrets from the CEO’s office in your head, but how do you manage this privileged information? In a professional way, you may have an influence on your CEO but avoid getting personal and divulging everything you hear from the grapevine to him. Be objective and manage your boss as well. Be a friend to him as well because you are the only one that witnesses his vulnerability. Every staff is watching. The way to a CEO’s office is through his/her Executive Asssistant, both physically and virtually.

Mr Procurement Manager

Are you aware that there is a perception that your seat is a gold mine? How objective are you on the committee that sits on approving contracts and supplies? Do you just ask other companies to bid for contracts when you have already established the winner before the bids are opened? Are you involved in the diversion of materials meant for the office, into your personal projects? It is sometimes funny to see that the materials used for your company is the same type found on your project site. All is watching for best practices, best quality service providers and your objectivity.

Mrs. Finance Officer

How is your book-keeping done? Are the standard accounting principles in place or you are being coerced to massage some information for submission to authorities? The foundation of all financial information originates from your desk. How technological saavy are you in using the accounting software? Get up from your compromising standard because there is a time for everything. The information gets to the Board, Bank of Ghana and posterity is waiting.

Mr Treasury Manager

In recent decades, the Treasury function of banks have turned out to be one of the most lucrative departments in terms of income generation. As a professional accountant, how are you managing your investment portfolio and the credit function? Are your deposit mix well put together? Are your single obligor limits being monitored to avid concentration risks? Check from the system and don’t rely solely on what is being generated for you.

Are you monitoring cash holding limits of the branches? Are investment placements well diversified in good places? Some clients may offer high margins, but remember the recent banking crisis where some financial institutions were collapsed, causing losses on investments placed with them. Avoid asking for personal margins on forex purchases and sales!

Madam Service Quality/Customer Experience

Madam your role is very challenging, but how are you managing the theory and practice of service delivery. Certain promises are promised said than fulfilled. How is your bank’s design thinking mode? In modern service quality management, the design thinking mechanism enables your bank to plot the customer’s journey along the various paths to facilitate proper allocation of service benchmarks.

How do you compare your bank’s brand, logos, pledges and standard values to what is on the ground? Your website is your promise to the world. Front office personnel cannot keep a smile on their faces the whole day. What customers need is a pleasant face, that’s all.

The online images are beautiful but how do you ensure that the promises are realistically fulfilled. A happy staff gives great service from his or her heart. Please follow up on their issues and make realistic promises to resolving customers’ complaints.

Mr Credit Manager

You are sitting on the most dangerous seat in the bank. Despite your hard work to keep the credit portfolio healthy, it is difficult to manage the influences from everywhere – customers, staff, Directors, senior state officials and even “PEPs” ( the politically exposed persons). There is high turnover rate of your position so how do you manage all this pressure? By being morally upright, stay neutral be assertive but respectly and have the ability to say no in a nice way (hmmm).

Madam Public Relations Director

As the spokesperson of the bank, how well exposed are you in many banking departmental overviews. How do you manage issues being faced by the bank to the external world. Just ensure that your messages are well couched and professionally disemminated.

Mr Head of Legal

This is another seat that demands maturity and heads on approach to issues especially those involving cases in court, shareholders, policies and even the Regulator. Are you really on top of your game. You need a lot of tact and maturity as the Secretary to the Board. You have privileged information requiring confidentiality as well.

You are a witness to squabbles in the board room and management committee meetings and disciplinary and sanctions and offences. In all things, please stay professionally neutral, give proper legal advice to all stakeholders and always remember that this will enable you get a win-win situation at all times.

Food for Thought

Whatever role you are playing in your organization, the deciding factor for your success may not be your accolades and titles, but rather how you apply the ethical factor in your work, which ultimately reflects in your behaviour. It is hard to work for God, but posterity will judge you in whatever decisions you take as you face the pressures of the work. The pressures, both internal and external, are meant to polish you to withstand the shocks of the nature of the banking business.

For more insights on this topic, please book a copy of my new book, “THE MODERN BRANCH MANAGER’S COMPANION” which involves the adoption of a multi-disciplinary approach in the practice of today’s branch management. It also shares invaluable insights on the mindset needed to navigate and make a difference in the changing dynamics of the banking industry. Call 0244333051 for your doorstep delivery.


Alberta Quarcoopome is a Fellow of the Institute of Bankers, and CEO of ALKAN Business Consult Ltd. She is the Author of Three books: “The 21st Century Bank Teller: A Strategic Partner” and “My Front Desk Experience: A Young Banker’s Story” and “The Modern Branch Manager’s Companion”. She uses her experience and practical case studies, training young bankers in operational risk management, sales, customer service, banking operations and fraud.


Website www.alkanbiz.com

Email:alberta@alkanbiz.com  or [email protected]

Tel: +233-0244333051/+233-0244611343



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