CHAPTER 10Does Your Firm Have a Strong and Distinctive Culture?

Here's a puzzle for you. What organisation, an important player in the financial services world, defines its ‘cultural characteristics’ like this?

We want people with backbone, who judge situations carefully, are confident communicators and challenge the status quo.

We promote professional excellence and we demonstrate it in everything we do, by setting high standards and delivering on our commitments.

We're curious by nature. We want to learn and find out more, every day, and we explore the implications of our actions in detail.

We're already on the case, thinking ahead and acting with confidence.

We're a strong team that celebrates our differences and successes, and we show trust in our colleagues.

If you think about it hard enough, you'll probably get it. First you'll realise that these are not the characteristics of a commercial organisation, or one that serves customers. It could perhaps be some kind of educational body – all that learning and finding out more – but it's tougher and more challenging than that. A government department? Not enough accountability, and maybe a bit too hard-edged.

Have you got it yet? Here's a clue: it is in fact the organisation that has done more than any other to push culture up the corporate agenda, shifting responsibility for it from the HR department all the way up to the boardroom.

Well done, you're there. It's our industry's regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority. ...

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