Royal Commission principles not simply an add-on

A set of ideas or principles aligned to community standards resulting from the financial services Royal Commission must not be solely grafted as optional extras for better business profits, an ethics specialist believes.

The Ethics Centre executive director Simon Longstaff said financial services firms cannot fix wrongdoings mentioned at the Commission and the reputational damage by simply "improving service standards or improving product design."

"Something more than that is required," Longstaff said last week at an annual function organised by public relations firm Pritchitt Partners.

Speaking ahead of the Royal Commission's final report, due at 4.10pm today, Longstaff said Commissioner Kenneth Hayne made it clear he's not interested in more laws to govern compliance, rather it's about where do firms sit in regards to community expectations.

"It's not enough to know how they [firms] treat their customers. It's how they treat each other inside the organisation, how they treat suppliers and how they treat the communities in which they operate," Longstaff said.

If there's one instance where the firm said it will do something and does something else, the customer will take that "as the evidence of your true character," he said.

Following the Royal Commission report today, the ethics specialist said it will matter how firms respond to the circumstances and its challenges.

"They've been perceived as greedy and high-hatted but now they're perceived as being dishonest," Longstaff said.

He added that from boardrooms to call centres, people are being denied the opportunity to practise making responsible decisions.

"It's throttling their ability to exercise some kind of principled discretion, and therefore [it's throttling the ability] to maintain the kinds of choices they have to make in this rapidly changing world," he said.

Read more: Royal CommissionSimon LongstaffKenneth HayneEthics CentrePritchitt Partners
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