Wells Fargo has been in the news recently regarding their internal cross-selling culture and the opening of accounts without their customer’s knowledge. Wells Fargo is not the only business that has a culture built around cross selling products, and they will probably not be the last to be found to violate customer trust in some way. These recent news articles have caused us to reflect on the role ethics and trust play in building and managing a business and we thought we would share a recent article that was shared with us.

In alignment with the recent news of trust at Wells Fargo, we were also recently sent a link from September 26, 2014, where Ignazio Angeloni, a member of the Supervisory Board of the European Central Bank, spoke on ethics in finance.

In the above link, Angeloni poses a series of questions that financial institutions can ask themselves when building their internal procedures and policies for helping customers. We found these questions to be helpful for us at The CP Journal and thought they might also be helpful for you and the organizations that you are a part of:

  • Are you doing what you promised to do?
  • Are you using your best knowledge and intention in doing it?
  • Are you doing what public authorities, superiors, colleagues and business partners expect you to do and, if not, why?
  • Are you conforming to the mission and the values of your company, as they are publicly stated?
  • Will your actions enhance public confidence in your company and in the financial [or your] sector?
  • Finally, and crucially, would you behave similarly if your actions were publicly observed?

These questions serve as a great starting point for you to begin thinking about your own organization’s internal mission statement and direction.  For example, I once worked on a team that suggested that before we send any e-mail, we ask ourselves if we would be comfortable having it printed in the New York Times. By thinking this way, regardless of your role with the organization, you can take ownership for your decisions and help ensure that you are putting your customers and your organization ahead of yourself.

We find it is best to create questions like this to help us make strategic decisions for our organization and to strive to make decisions aligned with our ethical obligations.  Most importantly, questions like the ones above can’t simply be answered with words, but also with actions.   In our work, we strive to teach behavioral analysis to help people make more informed decisions and we try to do our best everyday to make informed decisions ourselves.