Corporate Transparency and Accountability – An Unbreakable Bond

Enlighten was once again pleased to host a group of leaders at the recent Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch where guests heard from Westpac CEO, Brian Hartzer.

Mr Hartzer reflected on the Australian economy, with a focus on credit growth, business investment and the importance of economic diversity. He pointed out that while regulations and compliance are necessary, some
of the current regulations are posing a risk to economic growth.

He argued that several policies are unnecessarily strict and cause more damage than benefit because they interfere with the banking sector’s ability to lend to households and businesses.

He provided examples of prominent Westpac clients, fashion icon Carla Zampatti, media boss Kerry Stokes and billionaire Justin Hemmes who would have been unable to secure a loan in the current market because their application would have been denied due to strict regulations. Mr Hartzer reaffirmed, banks must lend responsibly but not at the cost of economic growth and innovation.

In addition to responsible lending, Hatzer spoke about the need for increased trust and transparency in the sector. He acknowledged Westpac had made mistakes in the past saying, “[Westpac] had not paid enough attention to the protection of vulnerable customers”. He continued, “If I could find a time machine I would go back and fix a bunch of things”.

In keeping with the above, Mr Hatzer moved on to discuss transparency and the need for financial institutions to have transparency across all areas of the business. This gives the customer and internal stakeholders confidence in the financial institutions processes and assurance that customers’ needs are front and centre.

A sentiment shared by Enlighten Co-Founder and CEO, Brent Churchill.

Mr Churchill firmly believes that everyone in an organisation (from the top, right to the front line), needs to be aware of their responsibilities, have clear expectations of what they are required to do, and most importantly have transparent measures and metrics in place to ensure accountability.

He says, “Most organisations these days have so much information and metrics about compliance, performance and quality, but it’s not centralised and it’s not transparent. As such it becomes lost in the process, which is what has led to the current challenges being faced by financial institutions.

“A lack of benchmarking and metrics further meant there have been limited checks and balances in place to hold people accountable. And it was only when the situation came to the surface that leaders realised how significant the issue of non-compliance was.”

Many financial institutions are learning from their mistakes and putting systems and processes in place to meet customer and shareholder needs. Organisations who enlist the help of Enlighten can benefit from a system that centralises all the benchmarks and metrics, and gives operational control and visibility to Executives, Managers and Team Leaders.

Enlighten ensures transparency throughout the whole organisation, so everyone knows how they are performing in comparison to their peers and other teams. It drives the right behaviours across the organisation, and everyone is clearly aware of what is expected of them.

The end-to-end holistic solution empowers team members to confidently perform their jobs and allows leaders to address non-compliance immediately. Having a more transparent culture leads to trust which ultimately benefits employees, customers and shareholders.

It is this winning combination that Mr Hatzer alluded to at the event. Had transparency and accountability been core values that were lived out in the financial sector, the industry may not be operating under such stringent guidelines now. The key will be to embrace these values and build a solution that is fit for the future.

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