The MD of Fidelity Bank Ghana, Julian Kingsley Opuni, has called on banks to promote whistleblowing to help fight ethical misconduct in the industry.
Speaking with the press on the Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business Conduct, its impact, enforcement, and other related issues, Mr. Opuni said as banks migrate most of their systems, processes and services to digital platforms, it is critical to integrate a code of ethics into these digitalised processes and procedures in the form of controls.
These controls, he added, must be monitored and adopted at all levels of the organisation, while digital systems and processes must be configured such that relevant information is easily accessible to the appropriate stakeholders, and deviations or breaches from standard practice or protocols are easily detected or flagged for further investigation.
“One key control that must be encouraged and given more focus is whistleblowing. This must be implemented at the national level and not only within banking institutions,” he said.
“Additionally, whistleblowers must be incentivised with corresponding rewards and accorded maximum protection. As we look to apply sanctions for non-compliance, we must also reward the whistleblowers to encourage more people to stand up and report ethical misconduct in the industry and society in general.”
Mr. Opuni further noted that it will require innovative thinking to build robust monitoring mechanisms, adding that with the right systems design-thinking approach centred on ethical standards, robust protocols to forestall or block ethical breaches can be developed.
“Ethics should be given as much attention as the other talking points, because at the end of the day, of what import is growth in revenue, for instance, if said growth is not attained ethically? World class institutions uphold proper business conduct and ethics, and the same must apply here in Ghana.”
Business ethics in general, Mr. Opuni stated, must be highlighted at all levels of higher education.
“If these ethics are taught, explained and practicalised during higher education, it will cause a paradigm shift and expose our students to the importance of ethical behavior. This is imperative to their success in the world of work, especially in a highly regulated industry like banking.”
He said Fidelity appreciates the overriding importance of ethical consciousness and, consequently, in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Bankers (CIB), has set up the Fidelity Banking Academy to provide practical training to interns and staff on the essentials of banking as well as the ethics of the profession.
“In fact, together with the CIB, we have developed several modules on the Ghana Banking Code of Ethics and Business Conduct to ensure that trainees imbibe these ethics fully into their professional and personal conduct,” he said.