RISK WATCH WITH Alberta Quarcoopome: The power of collaboration; working together to fight risks in banking (3)

Alberta Quarcoopome

Dear Readers, this is my final article on the subject. The need for multi-disciplinary knowledge and experiences are so valuable in this modern age, where working dynamics continue to change rapidly. Moreover, artificial intelligence which has disrupted many workplaces and jobs, demand that employees must continue to update and upgrade themselves to be more relevant in their places of work.

Managing Risks through Collaboration

We are all aware that risk exists in every aspect of providing financial service to customers. Some involve:

  • Process risk, where there are flaws in the execution of the process which can lead to losses.
  • System risks , when the systems used are not operating with efficiency leading to vulnerability, disruptions, external and internal threats and losses.
  • People risks are so real that constant monitoring and reviews reduce incidents of internal fraud and losses to the bank.
  • External risk can never be under-estimated. Natural disasters are becoming more rampant with climate change, while external frauds can be reduced when internal risks are vigilantly being monitored.

In this concluding article, I will look at a typical banking environment and see how the Board, Management and Staff can work together to have a win-win situation for the benefit of all stakeholders.

Composition of the Board of Directors

Since the introduction of the Bank of Ghana Directives on corporate governance in 2018, Boards composition have changed to ensure that the Directors have certain specialist backgrounds and skill sets for effective decision making. This results in the benefit of multi-disciplinary knowledge and sharing.


Gone are the days when it was mostly do as I say and not do as I do. The organizational structures of most financial services providers are such that it is no more a one-man show, as happened to some local banks whose licenses were revoked in 2017 and 2018. Teamwork is the key. Committees work in the interest of all stakeholders. Certain control departments like Risk, Compliance and Audit have direct working relationship with the Board, to ensure transparency and order.

Information Asymmetry

Digitalization has facilitated the communication systems to such a level that staff members should not claim ignorance. In some banks, there are access to intranet and portals that disseminate additional information for all users. This tool, in the absence of physical communication, has enhanced knowledge of many users to know what is happening in the system as well as being a reference point to share inter-departmental information. Unfortunately, some staff members continue to complain about information asymmetry, instead of reading and educating themselves on what happens in other departments.

Sometimes surfing the internet for irrelevant material becomes the main hobby, and many claim they don’t have idle time. I remember a case of an ambitious and determined young man who took advantage of the bank’s free e-learning models and educated himself to such a high level, which made him get an easy appointment with IFC! Please don’t complain too much about information asymmetry when you don’t take advantage of opportunities within the system.

Continuous learning

Having a staff training program is important for several reasons:

  • If an organization wants to keep abreast with developments in their

field of work, continuous learning is not an option any more – it’s a


  • No one is beyond learning, and that includes staff in the lowliest jobs

up the senior project manager.

  • Having a training policy raises the position of learning and training on

the agenda of the organization’s priorities. It ensures that a budget is

allocated for it.

Creating a ‘Team’ Mentality

Teamwork doesn’t just happen by turning the manager’s hat around and printing

‘Team Leader’ on it, or by telling everyone they are now a team. You have to

change the organization to help teams flourish, change the roles of individuals,

and train them in the execution of these roles.

Staff will only start working on the same team as management when they have

confidence that management will keep their interests just as much at heart as

those of the organization. People who work together are only a work-group. They

become a team only when have common objectives. These goals and objectives should be regularly communicated to all staff in the form of retreats, staff durbars, trainings,  zoom discussions, and other wellness programs, to foster unity in purpose. Let us look at informal verbatim quotes from some complaining bank staff, which can go a long way as food for thought in creating unity of purpose and enhance collaboration:

  • Delayed turnaround times
  • Knowledge gap among staff
  • Constant digital transaction failures
  • Too much blame game
  • Working in silos
  • No clear-cut leader in some branches
  • System failures
  • Lack of feedback from internal customers to external customers
  • Communicating more realistic timelines to customers, to reduce client agitation and bridge the gap or disparities between customer expectations and actual service delivery.
  • Seamless handing over of roles and transfer of knowledge.
  • More regular training of staff.

A good working team with cohesion and collaborativeness also shows the following characteristics:

  • They know where they are going; they know what they have to do.

They know what their goals are, because they have thought them


  • They measure how they are doing. They work on facts. They measure because they want to keep their eyes on the ball and make sure they deliver on their commitments.
  • They expect success. They act confident because they are used to

succeeding, i.e. because although they are used to setting themselves

challenging goals, they don’t set unrealistic or impossible ones.

  • They are ready to cooperate. They realize the work they do is to satisfy

customers. They put themselves out to meet their customers’ needs and wants.

  • They enjoy their work; they have fun!

From Manager to ‘Team Leader’

The job of a manager is altered with he or she becomes a ‘team leader’. While it

is the task of the team to run the job and the systems, the leader’s chief function

is to improve what is existing. He or she is always there as advisor, helper and supporter, but largely lets his or her team get on with the job.

This is generically how we see the unique contributions of the team leader in fostering COLLABORATION:

– Taking the lead.

– Producing what is needed to do a good job.

– Reducing waste.

– Removing obstacles.

– Devising improvements.

– Safe working conditions

– Team communications.

– Team motivation.

– Team member development.


In the first article, I listed some generic traits that staff in branches should have, according to the job roles. Despite the labels of “front office” and “back office”, the customer is not interested. The customer wants to see results. Delays in service delivery means the whole bank is at fault, not the front or back office persons.

The staff of various departments within a Bank rely on the products, services, and support of other departments to perform their roles effectively. Here are some examples:

  • Branch staff rely on Head office staff to perform their functions.
  • Back-office and Operations staff rely on the head office for data and support
  • Sales and Marketing rely on IT, Business Intelligence/Research, Finance, Treasury, Global, etc
  • IT Dept needs all staff to work with speed and accuracy to deliver
  • HR depends on the accurate submission of all staff to deliver proper policies like promotions, transfers, etc.
  • Global Trade/Markets depend on reliable data from business deparments to perform their functions.
  • Credits department staff rely on branch, Legal, etc, to deliver and get approvals within the stipulated timeframe.
  • Risk and Compliance works with all staff for delivering good policies and ensure regulatory compliance.
  • Finance relies on accurate data from all staff to generate accurate reports and forecasting
  • Legal Dept relies on support from all staff to protect the Bank’s legal status and defend any suits from customers.
  • Contact Center staff depends on IT and all staff for attending to customer concerns.
  • Management & Board rely on submission of accurate reports from HODs for prudent decision-making

Managers should therefore get the whole team working together to produce results, with minimal risk. It is imperative that all arms of the organizational structure are made to understand each other’s business and the expectations that go with it.

A stitch in time saves nine.


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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