MAS, ABS Form Culture and Conduct Steering Group

The steering group will identify best practices, monitor trends and emerging issues, and collaborate on initiatives to promote strong culture and conduct.

The MAS (Monetary Authority of Singapore) and ABS (Association of Banks in Singapore) have formed a new steering group to promote better culture and conduct among Singapore banks.

“MAS is intensifying its work with banks to strengthen (i) ethical business practices that safeguard customers’ interests and ensure fair treatment, and (ii) prudent risk-taking behaviour and robust risk management that support the bank’s safety and soundness,” the regulator said in a statement.

An important initiative to advance this agenda, the Culture and Conduct Steering Group has representatives from thirteen banks, the MAS and the ABS and will be chaired by Shee Tse Koon, DBS Bank’s country head for Singapore. The bank representatives span a number of functions including risk management and compliance.

In a joint statement, the MAS and ABS said the steering group’s aims are to identify best practices in the areas of conduct and culture and share them with banks to facilitate adoption. The steering group will also monitor trends and identify emerging conduct and culture issues within the industry and collaborate with the MAS on initiatives to promote stronger culture and conduct, such as performing industry self-assessments or updating codes of behaviour.

According to MAS assistant managing director for banking and industry Ho Hern Shin, good culture and conduct helps build customer trust, lays the foundation for sustainable business growth and enhances the financial strength of banks.

> ALSO READ: The MAS Approach to Cultivating Ethical Culture in Banking (29 Mar 2019)

ABS director Ong-Ang Ai Boon added that the new steering group will help ensure integrity and ethical behaviour among banks, building on existing practices to embed such values among member banks.

The steering group is a part of MAS’ efforts to work with banks in strengthening ethical business practices to safeguard customer interests, and promote prudent risk taking behaviour and robust risk management that support bank safety and soundness.

It is also expected to serve as a platform for industry-wide dialogue and sharing of best practices in line with the recommendations of the recently published G30 report on banking conduct and culture.

Herbert Smith Freehills partner Natalie Curtis says MAS is clearly building a supervisory programme with a focus on culture, in line with the FSB (Financial Stability Board) Toolkit for Strengthening Governance to Mitigate Misconduct Risk, published in April 2018, as well as the recommendations from Australia’s Royal Commission into financial services misconduct, for which the Final Report was issued in February.

“However, it is important to note that primary responsibility for a bank’s culture still rests with the bank – and its board and senior management,” she added.

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