Beyond compliance: why integrity matters more than ever

Share

Trust, integrity, and a belief in doing the right thing. It’s part of our DNA at Assetline Capital – just as it’s an ethical foundation for many professions, from medical practitioners to lawyers and engineers.

Assetline Capital and Banking and Finance Oath (BFO)

In June 2022 Assetline Capital’s credit, sales and leadership teams all took The Banking and Finance Oath (BFO) to hold themselves accountable to those standards. In doing so, they joined a growing community of banking, wealth advice, superannuation and insurance professionals who recognise an ethical foundation is also essential to building a sustainable business.

“We’re on a journey,” says Paul Munt, Managing Director – Property Lending with Assetline Capital. “Integrity has always been important to our business. As we continue to grow our customer base and raise awareness of non-bank lending, we have a responsibility to role model values-based decision-making more broadly in the industry.”

Non-bank lenders working with company borrowers typically operate in a less regulated environment. That’s why Assetline Capital’s new Head of Credit Grant McFarlane says it’s even more important to consider applying regulated principles to an unregulated loan.

“We need to do the right thing by the borrower,” Grant explains. “That means helping them grow their business, and fully disclosing all fees and charges. For me, integrity is about making the right decisions for the right reasons – and standing by your word when you say you’re going to do something.”

For me, integrity is about making the right decisions for the right reasons – and standing by your word when you say you’re going to do something.”

Grant McFarlane – Head of Credit

Restoring trust in financial services

The need for a Banking and Finance Oath emerged in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, when industry leaders came together to focus on how to restore trust and confidence in the sector – and ensure lapses in ethical decisions became a thing of the past.

The Banking and Finance Oath enables individuals to be a catalyst for helping their organisations uphold their standards, and do better”

Cris Parker, Director of The Banking and Finance Oath

Cris Parker Director BFO

The non-profit organisation is part of The Ethics Centre, however it has always been an industry-led initiative.

Cris believes individuals can create a movement and make change, whether they are recent graduates or experienced leaders. “For younger people, the Oath is an opportunity to shape their industry and make it one they can be proud of,” she says. “And leaders understand it holds them to account. They tell me they use it as an opportunity during staff induction, to tell new employees; ‘This is what we believe, these are our values, and you can call me out if you see me not living those values.’”

As more organisations and individuals sign up to The BFO, Cris believes accountability will become more of the norm– and hopes every professional in the sector will feel confident to call out decisions driven by self-interest, rather than ethical standards.

The right thing to do

While trust indexes have risen for the financial services sector over the past couple of years, Cris notes the next few years will be a true test.

“We can’t be complacent. Interest rates are rising, and we’re living in a fast-moving time. What may be right for someone today might not be in a year. So, we need to continuously reflect on our behaviour, and how our systems and processes work. And that’s all about ethics.”

 

Assetline Capital 100% Committed The BFO

Grant describes Assetline Capital’s 100% commitment to The Banking and Finance Oath as a ‘timely refresher’.

“We’ve all been in the industry for a long time, and we know what we should be doing as a matter of course to balance the needs of the borrower with the business. However, it’s good to bring it into the open, and make sure everyone involved in any deal has taken The BFO – and understands what that means.”

As part of this process, the company is ensuring its values and vision align with the principles of The BFO – and making those values highly visible across its offices in Sydney and Melbourne. “We need to all live and breathe by these values, because that’s how we make decisions,” explains Paul.

“We have conversations about responsible lending, and workshop ethical dilemmas. Our recruitment strategy focuses on identifying talent with those aligned values, and our reward and recognition programs will also be tied to it.”

Good for business, borrowers and brokers

Taking the Oath is a visible commitment to Assetline Capital’s borrowers, brokers, investors and other partners that everyone in the business will do what they say they will do. “This onus on transparency ultimately builds trust,” says Paul.

“If you have a framework for making better decisions, based on strong values and principles, it will result in better customer relationships and higher staff retention,” notes Cris.

She says The BFO looks beyond compliance.

“Regulation is retrospective, ethics is forward-thinking. ASIC and APRA can set ‘minimum’ standards, but they aren’t sitting next to you when you’re on the phone to a customer. And as customer expectations continue to evolve, you need to rise above to set and maintain a great business reputation.”

“Integrity brings every decision back to the customer. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here,” says Paul. “We have strong principles that link back to our values, and we translate that to our customers, investors, and everyone we deal with.”

We have strong principles that link back to our values, and we translate that to our customers, investors, and everyone we deal with.”

Paul Munt – Managing Director, Property Lending

If you have a deal you’d like to discuss directly with a decision-maker, please get in touch.

More
articles