The employees of vdk bank were the first in Belgium to take the banker’s oath. Sector federation Febelfin initiated this legal obligation. Good for customer confidence and the image of the banking sector. “Non-bankers such as HR colleagues also took the oath.”
The banker’s oath is a professional oath to act with integrity, ethically and professionally. It is a declaration of honor to respect important deontological rules, taking into account the interests of the customer. Vdk bank was the first bank in Belgium to take the initiative. Employees of the other banks have until 2025 to take the banker’s oath. The financial supervisor has the authority to investigate and sanction violations of the oath.
The swearing-in process at vdk bank went smoothly. The company called on all employees to support the oath and participate collectively in the taking. The swearing-in ceremony had the allure of a corporate ritual. HR manager Nancy Deweirdt: “We think it is important that everyone endorses the bank’s values, including colleagues who do not work in a commercial position. The CEO took the lead in pronouncing the oath all together, out loud and with his hand on his heart.” Each employee then signed his personal certificate.
The introduction of the banker’s oath required hardly any internal awareness or change management at vdk bank. According to Nancy Deweirdt, employees made the conscious choice to work for a sustainable and ethical bank when they joined. Vdk bank uses the momentum to highlight the company values. “Sustainability, ethics and human closeness are important to us. We want to stick our neck out and be more ambitious than the classic banker’s oath.”
Doesn’t that high ethical standard deter potential applicants? According to Nancy Deweirdt, the opposite is true. “I notice that candidates directly and spontaneously find their way to vdk bank as a future employer. Our commitment reflects positively on recruitment and is a difference maker in the battle for talent.”
Evaluation and compensation
Vdk bank integrates the banker’s oath into the onboarding process of new employees. The oath-taking process is embedded in going through work regulations, code of ethics and policy documents. The banker’s oath also has a place in the evaluation process. Vdk bank will follow up to see whether each employee took the oath correctly. Disciplinary sanctions are associated with violations. Does the banker’s oath have an impact on remuneration? Nancy Deweirdt rejects that. “It is unusual to link a financial incentive to an action with a high symbolism that underlines our social role. The oath runs parallel to the HR policy.”