Defining your firm's standards of behaviour

During a health check or audit, several ‘company culture’ elements are assessed such as training and competence, and the standards driven by senior management.

But what exactly are ‘standards’ and how can they be assessed?

Setting standards

Standards refer to the behaviours we observe within an organisation.

Ideally, each behaviour will have a clearly stated standard to be observed, which is often referred to as ‘standards of behaviour’ and help to avoid charges of inconsistency or subjectivity.

Some standards will require something to be done, such as areas required by law and compliance. In these cases, the quality of the behaviour is not an issue, just that it is done. Other standards will require something to be done in a certain way, and quality becomes an issue.

It is important to avoid over-complication when setting standards.  It is much more effective to have one statement that sums up what is acceptable or what ‘good looks like’, than a description for each standard with accompanying levels (unsatisfactory, satisfactory, good, and excellent for each standard would be onerous).

An example of standards in practice

To help illustrate standards of behaviour, we can use the following example:

Tom’s supervisor has assessed him as being satisfactory in presenting product information to a client. He presented all facts clearly and accurately, meeting the required standard.

However, the supervisor also asked Tom to spend more time outlining the benefits that the product offers to the client. The supervisor has suggested that further training is necessary.

In this situation, it would be wise for both to agree what is expected to meet the requirement.

The role of senior management

As responsibility for fostering the right culture lies with senior management, it is important to recognise how an appropriate culture can be implemented and maintained. Setting standards will not be easy to embed into a firm if the senior management isn't driving it!

If your firm does not have clearly defined standards of behaviour in place, then please feel free to contact me, or any member of the RWA team.

Kirk Ford
Compliance and T&C Manager

About the author

Kirk joined RWA in 2015, having worked in the financial services sector for many years. He started out in both the general insurance and mortgage advice arms of HSBC, before becoming the Compliance Officer at Go Compare and Training & Competence Manager at Optimum Credit. 

At RWA, Kirk supports clients by looking after their compliance and training and competence needs and keeping them up to date with regulatory changes. He promotes the achievement of fair customer outcomes and specialises in designing and implementing T&C schemes for firms of all sizes.

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