Paul Moore of Moore, Carter and Associates at the DeakinPrime Corporate Luncheon Series.
Attendees included from left to right, Jerry Marston (Netbalance), Paul Moore, Liz Lor (Client Relations, DeakinPrime) Associate Professor Linda Hancock (Deakin University) and Jules Cauberg (CEO, DeakinPrime) and in the background, Ross Wyatt (Netbalance).
Ever felt like you were in a rowing boat trying to slow down an oil tanker? Well, that’s how Paul Moore, former head of the UK’s HBOS Risk and Regulatory Compliance Division, described the challenges he faced at work in 2008.
Moore joined HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) in 2002 – it was then one of the fastest growing banks in the UK with 74 000 full time staff, £660 billion in assets in 2007 and profits before tax of £5.4 billion. Moore was promoted to Head of Group Regulatory Risk in 2003, having accountability for policy, process, oversight and reporting.
Throughout his time at HBOS, Moore became increasingly concerned about the risk management and sales culture of the organisation. On a number of occasions, Moore alerted the board to his concerns and later commented: ‘even non-bankers with no “credit risk management” expertise ... would have known that there must have been a very high risk if you lend money to people who have no jobs, no provable income and no assets.’
As part of DeakinPrime’s Corporate Boardroom Luncheon series, Moore shared with members of the banking, finance and other communities, his insights into the banking culture during his short time at HBOS. Moore now consults to organisations in the area of ethics, compliance, board effectiveness and risk culture. During the lunch he discussed some key check points that organisations need to alert themselves to if they are to avoid being one of the dominoes in any financial crisis.
Moore spoke of his four C’s: corporate culture and ethics, capability of control functions, corporate governance and corroboration of critical control functions. Amongst all of this, he asked us to think about whether any of the following were present in our own organisational cultures: a culture of being able to challenge the status quo, a culture of only recognising good news, a culture where risks were reported but where sales were always prioritised.
This was all perhaps best summed up in a slide where Moore talked about the functional profile of a risk and compliance professional. The profile is what you might expect – it is all about understanding the business, managing relationships, giving advice and assurance. However, more than this, the functional profile needs to have an underlay of the functional DNA – that is, where risk professionals are client focused and maintain technical excellence and outstanding judgment. Integrity and courage are also crucial in helping to establish a culture of openness.
Ethics and values form core components of DeakinPrime’s Building Leadership Capital offering. Its relevance is underscored by the real-life example of HBOS, but can also be seen in subsequent examples of multinational companies in the media. The aim of the DeakinPrime offering is to identify ethics as an important part of the broader discussion around being a leader. However, rather than taking a morally didactic approach, the offering explores different ethical frameworks and value systems which organisations have used. Participants are then left to reach their own conclusions about what application would occur, and how, within their own organisation.
Ethics experts such as Paul Moore can be called upon to enrich the dimensions of discussion as can Deakin University’s own faculty members. Associate Dean in the Faculty of Business and Law, Professor Greg Wood, would be one example of an expert who can challenge and inspire. Professor Wood’s main focus for research has been a multi-nation research collaboration on codes of ethics in the top 500 companies in the private sector in both Europe and Asia. He lectures in Australia and overseas and is passionate about business ethics.
Ultimately, exploration of ethics is fascinating, challenging and invariably ongoing, as leaders need to approach new circumstances and environments and apply their best judgment in each individual case. Interestingly, situations may not always be ‘big ticket’ items but smaller ones in which decisions of moral ‘rightness’ may easily be ignored for short-term gain. For some, grey ethics may indeed be the new black, but for others, speaking out and doing what’s right transcends any discussion of shades of colour (degrees of correct ethical response).
Contact Liz Lor, Alliance Director, for more information on the customised programs that DeakinPrime delivers.