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    HKMA Publishes Report on Review of Self-Assessments of Bank Culture

    May 22, 2020

    HKMA published a report on the review of self-assessments on bank culture in Hong Kong. The report is based on submissions by 30 authorized institutions that were covered in the first phase of the self-assessment exercise and include all major retail banks and selected foreign bank branches with substantial operations in Hong Kong. HKMA reviewed self-assessment reports from these banks with a view to providing a range of practices as well as identifying common themes for reference by the industry. HKMA has identified a range of practices under each of the three pillars—governance, incentive systems, and assessment and feedback mechanisms. These practices can be a handy reference for authorized institutions as they move on and devise further culture enhancement measures.

    HKMA is encouraging authorized institutions to pay more attention to the following common themes that have been identified from the self-assessments:

    • Further work is needed to ensure that banks' incentive systems are designed to promote sound culture and prevent incidents of misconduct.
    • Stronger links are required to connect Hong Kong operations of banks with the culture efforts of their headquarters or upstream entities as well as their downstream operations, as appropriate.
    • Deeper analysis is expected to benchmark themselves against the findings from the reviews of the major overseas misconduct incidents.
    • More focus is needed to facilitate the undertaking of the continuous professional development under the Enhanced Competency Framework or by other professional bodies to complement the effort of promoting sound culture.
    • More effort is needed to tackle the key challenge of culture assessment to identify the gaps between current progress and desired culture.
    • More work is needed in promoting an environment that provides psychological safety to encourage staff to speak up without fear of adverse consequences.
    • Sustained effort is required in driving cultural changes and banks should be mindful of culture fatigue.

    The insights drawn from the self-assessments informed the future work of HKMA on supervision of bank culture. Going forward, HKMA will conduct focused reviews to deep dive into the incentive systems of front offices in the business of distributing banking, investment and/or insurance products in retail banks. HKMA has already commenced dialog on bank culture with several authorized institutions (in 2019) and the engagement with authorized institutions will continue going forward. HKMA will also continue to work closely with the industry in promoting sound bank culture. HKMA will continue to gauge the progress of bank culture reform in Hong Kong and share industry-wide insights and practices on culture with the industry, as and when appropriate. HKMA will also continue to explore other culture initiatives, taking into account overseas experience and emerging themes that may arise.

    Keywords: Asia Pacific, Hong Kong, Banking, Bank Culture, Governance, Incentive Systems, ESG, Operational Risk, HKMA

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