In early January the Financial Conduct Authority sent an open letter to CEOs in the wholesale general insurance sector about non-financial misconduct. This letter outlines the FCA’s expectations of how insurance companies address non-financial misconduct in the sector, including identifying what drives such behaviours.

At the crux of the letter is a call to arms to do something about company cultures. A topic close to my heart.

An organisation’s culture is created by everyone there. The people are its heartbeat, and what we need to know is this – is the culture healthy? Are people thriving? Do they feel a sense of belonging or are they just turning up, keeping their heads down and then going home?

I’ve heard some dissenting voices suggesting it’s not the place of the FCA to get involved in non-financial matters. I disagree.

Problems with non-financial misconduct speak to the culture of firms. When any company in the financial services sector is safeguarding millions of pounds of money for individuals & companies, I think it’s of utmost relevance to know what the culture is like. What is acceptable and what is not in the everyday goings on in the office can often be an indicator of how customers and clients will be treated.

And, setting aside customers for a moment, all CEOs have a responsibility to make sure their employees are safe (physically & psychologically); that their people have an experience at work which is positive rather than the opposite.  This is a broader point relevant for all companies, not only those in the insurance sector.

High employee engagement is held up as the holy grail, yet in most companies only around a third or less of employees are engaged. So, it makes financial, social & moral sense to collaboratively create a positive culture, a community even. If a company puts some serious weight into this then we will finally start to see true change.

We need to feel a sense of community. Humans are hardwired for it and unfortunately not many have that where they live. Instead let’s create it in the workplace – after all that’s where people spend the majority of their waking hours.

I started out asking if CEOs are listening. The FCA’s letter is available for all to see, CEOs will have read it and I hope they will be held to account.

What we should all be asking now is: what happens next?

If you’d like to further this conversation I’d be delighted to hear from you.