The last decade has seen a dramatic erosion of confidence in the Irish banking sector. Faced with overwhelming public disdain, it was apparent to leaders across Irish banking that radical change was necessary. They needed to rebuild relationships with the public and repair the damage of past behaviours.
Five retail banks came together to establish the Irish Banking Culture Board (IBCB). Their aim was to achieve fair customer outcomes and win back the public’s trust.
We were appointed to create and execute a consultation process, which would inform the make-up of the Board as well as the Board’s work programme.
Four key insights informed our approach:
- Trying to counter public perception with positive messages around banking was likely to alienate our audience further. Banks needed to be humble and admit there was an urgent need for change.
- Change would only be credible and effective if driven by real customer insights.
- If the future of Irish banking were to be built around its customers, we needed to hear directly from them. No assumptions. No filters.
- Internal reviews were unlikely to surface the external perceptions and hard truths that banks needed to hear. It was important to hear from their employees, but equally important to hear from their customers and wider stakeholder group, otherwise they risked awareness limitations, vested interests and resistance to transparency.
STRATEGY & EXECUTION
Our key message was “only change that comes from within, and is informed by the public, can be authentic and sustainable.”
Instead of protecting the future Board from what the public might say, we walked towards the flames, launching an online consultation for the public. This helped to build the Board’s reputation for inclusivity and transparency, before it was even formally established.
To ensure we reached the broadest range of groups across Irish society, we ran one-to-one interviews and group workshops with stakeholders from across rural and urban Ireland and interrogated pertinent issues to their fullest. Attendees included policy advisors, economists, academics, business representatives, farming representatives, and consumer advocates.
The project ran for 8 months, from the launch of the establishment office to the launch of the fully formed IBCB.
The 12-week consultation process included an online survey, one-to-one interviews and group workshops.
Media was engaged prior to the April Board launch, earning prominence in top tier media outlets. The IBCB launch event was attended by the CEOs and Board members from the five founding banks, alongside senior representatives across Irish society.
Two consultation reports were published. One report highlighted the areas the IBCB’s work programme could potentially focus on and the second shared employee feedback and views from the founding banks.
We also launched the IBCB brand identity, developed to represent change and evolution, transition and acceleration.
The concept of cultural change has become a part of the national vocabulary.
The honest consultation process was instrumental in moving public opinion from scepticism to positive support, and even advocacy.
Media coverage for the launch was achieved across Ireland’s top tier media outlets, including: RTE TV and Radio, Irish Times, Irish Independent, Newstalk, Sunday Business Post, Irish Examiner and Today FM.
Print, broadcast and online commentators acknowledged the banks’ genuine desire to change.
The launch was attended by senior representatives of all groups across Irish society, including Government Ministers and CEOs of the banks and other businesses.