How the BSB assesses ‘fuzzy’ human behaviour & culture concepts at banks


The Banking Standards Board has decided to build a framework which would add clarity to matching what companies were doing to the most satisfactory consumer outcomes for those companies. This framework was designed with a starting point of consumer outcomes, societal outcomes and the needs of the 400,000 employees who work directly in banking.

Qamar Zaman and Celia Moore talked about this framework at the recent Analytics Summit.

The idea of the framework was to determine what factors organisations within the sector should consider in order to develop a successful culture without actually defining that culture. It should result in good consumer outcomes, good societal outcomes and good employee outcomes.

Mr Zaman spoke about ethical and behavioural concepts like honesty, openness and accountability. But taking these into account when building a framework for outcomes was not enough; such a framework also had to consider capability, competence, reliability, responsiveness and organisational resilience. Central to all of this, he said, was ‘shared purpose’.

How the BSB assesses ‘fuzzy’ human behaviour & culture concepts at banks

C Moore & Q Zaman

To define what shared purposes were, it was necessary to look into empirical literature from case studies, banking failure and failure rates of other organisations, especially on conduct issues. It was necessary also to look at well-being issues and not just for the individual but for the organisation as a whole. Some of the ways such understandings could be gained would be to scrutinise communications within organisations such as emails, interactions, interdepartmental messaging – machine learning could be a useful tool in gaining insight from such information.

Celia Moore then talked about the Banking Standards Board’s annual survey – sent out to British bankers. In its first year the survey enjoyed 28,000 responses, in the next 36,000, and this year was on target for 70,000 respondents. She said that all surveys were an imperfect measurement, though, and getting an accurate measure about what culture was in companies by using survey data was nearly impossible. People undertaking such surveys could be ‘fuzzy’ in their responses. If the questions comprising such a survey were chosen carefully they could at least provide an indication of the cultural trends prevalent amongst those firms surveyed.

So it was important to ensure ‘the things asked or measured’ amounted to more than just an exercise to see whether the ‘quanta bars went up and down’ in the survey data. When constructing such a survey it is also important to consider whether the survey is measuring what it should be measuring. The questions asked were focussed on helping us define the purposes and values of the respondents.

Much of the data is subjected to analytics processes to reveal patterns. The result of this analysis can show those regions in a business which are good performers and those which are bad. Such analysis can be sufficiently insightful, to help steer firms in directions which benefit both companies and their customers.

Qamar Zaman and Celia Moore revealed to us the insights provided from analysis of ‘some forms’ of accrued data were far from perfect, but they at least provided some indication of trends in purpose and behavioural bias within firms, areas which could then be examined in more detail to make a difference to how firms conducted their business.