Dear Purpose-Driven Bankers: Don’t quit! We need you to stay and drive a purpose beyond profit.
Today, as we stand by and watch the horror unfolding with the Financial Services Royal Commission, I’ve been reflecting on how, and why, the finance industry has lost its way, and why it seemingly has no purpose beyond profit.
I’ve also been reflecting on you, the thousands of finance industry employees – the ones who’ve been let down by your leaders and who are now left to bear the brunt of the ever-growing customer and public distrust.
I was once a banker. In 1980, I was living in Mt Gambier in rural South Australia. Despite an inner calling to become a teacher, I joined the local branch of The Commercial Bank of Australia which merged with the Bank of NSW to become Westpac two years later.
At the time, I recall having no particular fervor for finance. I was however, good with numbers and people and the salary and promise of promotion was appealing. Banking became my chosen profession for 20 years. I was extremely proud of my work. I also trusted my leaders, made great friends with my co-workers and loved the variety of challenging roles I took up.
As the millennium approached, it seemed that I was destined to become a life-long banker.
Then in 2001, my life took a drastic about-turn. My marriage ended, I moved to a new home with my 3-year-old son and I quit my job to start my own business so I could have the flexibility to care for him as a single parent. In an instant I was no longer a banker and I was free to pursue my calling.
Now in 2018, after 17 years as an author, teacher and community builder, I’ve discovered that the grass is not greener as a business owner. I’ve come to the realisation that perhaps I could have stayed a banker and pursued my calling. Perhaps I could have been repurposed and redeployed in the bank? Perhaps I could have made a greater difference if I’d actually stayed?
There’s no doubt we’re facing massive systemic changes in the finance industry with the advent of crypto-currencies, B Corporations, peer-to-peer and share economies and the like. The global currency of exchange is evolving so that hopefully one day, every human being will become prosperous, not just the few at the top.
Until that perfect day, we have a finance industry in disarray with thousands of employees uncertain of their future and no doubt exploring alternative careers in companies driven by a higher purpose than profit. Is this you?
If so, I urge you to stay. If you care deeply about purpose and people, we need you to lead from the trenches to become self-leaders and cause-leaders. We need you to have deep and meaningful conversations with your appointed leaders, your co-workers, your customers, your families and the communities in which you live and work. We need you to passionately advocate for something greater than profit. We need you to stay right where you are and bring your own why to work, starting right now.
We don’t yet know what the fallout will be from the Royal Commission. Perhaps we’ll see large-scale mergers, restructures, retrenchments and even some institutions crumbling? Or, perhaps it will all just blow over in a year, and all will be forgotten? Whatever the outcome, in the meantime, we need you dear purpose-driven bankers and financiers. We need you to stay and make banking good again.
And if you need to know how, my helpline is open. Call +61 412 806 950.