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BFCSA: BFCSA: Unlikely APRA 'risk culture' reviews to become the norm unless radical change to culture

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APRA 'risk culture' reviews to become the norm

Australian Financial Review Sep 13 2017 10:00 PM

Joanna Mather

 APRA Do Nothing other than “Monitor in Secret” Policy is so disingenuous.  People are fed up with APRA lying to Parliament re no systemic issues in Banking.


Experts in organisational psychology have been drafted into a specialist team that will be embedded in banks and other financial services companies to conduct "risk culture" reviews.

The reviews by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) will draw on a wide range of sources, from the opinions of junior staff to first-hand observations of board meetings.

APRA describes risk culture as the way staff identify, understand, discuss and act on the risks an organisation either confronts or takes.

Pilot reviews are occurring within five unnamed companies operating in banking, insurance and superannuation.

In a break from usual practice, APRA will use focus groups, surveys and one-on-one interviews with frontline staff and middle managers to gauge how messages about risk are permeating an organisation. At the other end of the scale, APRA will sit in on board and executive committee meetings.

APRA's on-site presence could last three or more weeks at a time, APRA head of governance, culture and remuneration Fahmi Hosain said.

"This is very new territory for us," Mr Hosain told an Actuaries Institute conference in Sydney on Tuesday.

"One of the things that is often talked about when it comes to culture is that it's soft and fluffy, you can't measure it. That's not our view. Our view is you can actually assess it, you can measure it, you can think about it in a quantifiable sense."

The process began well before APRA announced an independent review of governance, culture and accountability Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which is accused of failing to suspicious transactions involving alleged money laundering.

Mr Hosain said only one other regulator the world, the Dutch Central Bank, was taking a similar approach to risk culture.

And like the Dutch, APRA was drawing on the expertise of organisational psychologists to look beyond written policies and procedures to uncover the "informal drivers" of "behaviour norms" within an organisation.

"[The Dutch] strategy was they had a whole team of organisational psychologists going out and doing things," Mr Hosain said.

"We've blended organisational psychologists with traditional supervisory expertise."

Staff with expertise in economics, operational risk and remuneration help make up Mr Hosain's 11-strong team.

The pilot risk culture reviews will be completed in the second half of 2018, after which the process will become "business as usual" for APRA and its supervisory practice, Mr Hosain said.

APRA will form its own view of risk culture to see if it aligns with the board and senior management's thinking.

The results will be reported back to the companies involved rather than being reported in any public forum.



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