Rebuilding trust is still firmly at the top of the agenda for the FCA and the Boards of many financial institutions. It will therefore come as no surprise that creating a purpose-based culture featured heavily in discussions at the 5th annual Culture and Conduct Forum for the Financial Services Industry last week. As noted by Jonathan Davidson , this continued focus on rebuilding trust, coupled with the need to attract a new generation of talent, means organisations must focus on providing ‘meaning as well as money’ for their people. Whilst historically it has been assumed that profit and higher social purpose cannot coexist effectively, according to the World Economic Forum ‘profit with purpose is set to become the new norm’ .
With 70% of consumers saying their purchasing decisions are influenced by a company’s ethical behaviour , how do you create a culture focused around purpose?
In this short blog, I outline 8 top tips to help leaders think about their purpose and how to embed that purpose throughout their organisation.
- Start with history – according to Joe Garner , the first port of call is to understand why your organisation was started in the first place. Is that same purpose still relevant today or can it be adapted to apply to the future?
- Crowdsource ideas – ask people across your organisation what they feel their impact is. According to Tiina Lee , when Deutsche Bank adopted this approach it not only created a sense of buzz around the purpose but allowed a degree of self-actualisation.
- Consider your personal purpose – as a leader ask yourself why do I come to work each day? How does my personal purpose link to that of my organisation? As noted by Bill George  ‘the most empowering condition of all is when the entire organization is aligned with its mission, and people’s passions and purpose are in synch with each other’.
- Don’t just focus on tone from the top – ensure line managers can articulate what the purpose means for them, their teams and their day-to-day responsibilities. Empower the middle to take responsibility for the areas they have control over, especially where they are remote from end customers or products. But watch out that you do not create a ‘squeezed middle’ and instead ensure you give managers both the power and time to act.
- Align incentivisation – review incentives and promotion processes to ensure they align with a longer-term mindset. Andrew Wilson  spoke of how at Goldman Sachs Asset Management International, incentives structures and promotion criteria are now based on consistent long-term performance with single-year performance no longer being sufficient.
- Ensure your business model underpins your purpose – whilst ensuring all employees understand how the organisational purpose applies to their own role is of vital importance, alignment needs to go much wider than this. Organisational strategy, capabilities and management systems must also support the wider purpose.
- Address misalignment – use a range of metrics to identify where people are struggling to understand what the purpose means to them. Invite qualitative feedback through 3rd party tools or sentiment analysis, and cross reference this with more quantitative data to identify and target areas of misalignment.
- Consider taking purpose one step further – According to Saker Nusseibeh , Hermes Investment Management have taken this one step further by asking all their people to sign a personal pledge, including statements such as ‘I will act with consideration for society and the environment both now and in the future’. Saker describes examples of how individuals hold each other to account and how half of all bonus payment are tied back to this pledge, really embedding it in the DNA of the organisation.
It may be 2 years since Larry Fink  wrote to CEOs declaring that to prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society; but one thing remains clear, purpose is increasingly becoming a point of differentiation for the customer, the candidate and the investor. After all, as noted by Tracy Clarke  ‘there is no point in having culture without purpose’.
If you would like to discuss the tips outlined in this blog further, or would like to understand more about our offerings in this space please contact Liz Hirst, Natalie Wharton or another of the Wharton Ignite team.
 Jonathan Davidson, Director of Supervision, Retail and Authorisations, Member of the Executive Committee, FCA
 The future of business? Purpose, not just profit, Antonio Zappulla CEO Designate, Thomson Reuters Foundation. World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019
 Accounting for Good, AAT, 2016
 Joe Garner, CEO of Nationwide Building Society
 Tiina Lee, CEO, UK and Ireland Deutsche Bank
 Bill George, Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic
 Andrew Wilson, CEO for EMEA at Goldman Sachs Asset Management International
 Saker Nusseibeh, CEO, Hermes Investment Management
 Larry Fink, CEO, Blackrock
 Tracy Clarke, Regional CEO Europe and Americas and CEO, Private Bank Standard Chartered
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