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Reputation Risk Management: The Way Ahead for Banks

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
- Warren Buffett
Since the financial crisis, consumer trust surveys have invariably rated banks near the bottom.
For service organizations like banks, reputation is the basic foundation of business. This intangible asset manifests in the form of brand name/value on the strength of which all stakeholders – clients, employees and partners – interact with the organization.  Reputation loss is thus a key risk and its management calls for a robust mechanism as well as coordinated effort between different bank divisions.
Surprisingly, banks continue to manage risk in silos with separate departments handling credit, operational and market risks among others. Instead of reacting to individual catastrophes as they happen or relegating the work of managing a particular risk to just one department, they need to get their act together and design an integrated framework for proactive management of all risks.
Apart from restructuring the risk management framework, banks need to take a broader approach to managing risk, built on the following.
Vision Expansion
All this while, banks have followed regulatory procedure or the policies of other banks, when they’ve set their own reputation risk standards.  It’s time they also drew upon the best practices followed by other risk-heavy businesses, say, companies in the consumer goods or automotive sector, which have large supply chains.
Employee Belief
Employee self-belief significantly affects the banks’ risk-fighting capacity. The quality of work of employees, either on the banks’ payroll or on that of their Direct Selling Agents, call centers and outsourcing partners has a direct bearing on organizational reputation as well. So, in addition to building confidence among employees, all staff members should be sensitized to the fact that any slip-up on their part could adversely affect goodwill.
Employee Satisfaction
Discontentment in the ranks will seriously jeopardize employee contribution to reputation building. Banks have to follow  policies which are sensitive to the needs of the workforce and treat employees as partners in the task of organization development. 
Knowledge Banks
Although banks can learn valuable reputational risk management lessons from the past, currently, employees have minimal access to ready reference material. They need to document and store historical cases and precedents in generic form in repositories. Banks must also conduct training programs on reputation risk management to transfer knowledge.
Technology is a vital enabler of reputation risk management.
Enterprise-wide Solution
Enterprise-wide risk management solutions facilitate a holistic view of organizational risks. These programs provide early distress signals enabling timely problem resolution.
Though a lot of hype has been created around banks’ big data, not much has been done to harness its power for risk management purposes.  Banks can use analytics solutions to sift through the mounds of information for managing reputation risk.
 Social Media
Putting the damage to their reputations in social media behind them, banks must now leverage the same platform to initiate customer engagement programs as part of their reputation-building measures.
Failure to implement these solutions, will adversely impact banks’ 5Cs – Consumer, Capital, Compliance, Cost and Competition with such speed and force that recovery will become difficult if not impossible.


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