Conduct, culture and behavioural science 

Held on Wednesday, March 16, 2016


  • Wijnand Nuijts (‎manager supervision, governance, culture and organizational behavior, DNB)

  • Christopher Forster (technical specialist, Bank of England)

  • Greg Davies (managing director, head of behavioural-quant finance Barclays)

  • Peter Montagnon (associate director, Institute of Business Ethics)

  • Dr. Meloria Meschi (managing director, FTI Consulting)



Behaviour.” “Culture.” Define your terms... Normally, when I read reports on how important behaviour and culture are in financial services, I get a strong case of the Lucy Kellaways. They are slippery concepts, and it is all too easy to bullshit platitudinously about how important they are, how fundamental they were to the 2007/08 crisis, and how we have got to Do Something about them. Do what, I am inclined to ask.

And, maybe, I have finally got an answer. The Dutch National Bank (which is a banking supervisor as well as a central bank) takes behaviour and culture very seriously, and now incorporates a detailed examination of both in its regular examinations. So far, it has done 54 detailed assessments of B&C in a mix of banks, insurers, pension funds and trust offices – and has, in its words, identified “fundamental risks” in 34 of them. It is, it believes, the first supervisory authority to target B&C as risk factors – but I surmise it won’t be the last. It published its preliminary findings last year, and I am delighted that Wijnand Nuijts – who currently heads the Bank’s governance, culture and organisational behaviour department – has agreed to walk us through the methodology and findings. He is a former head of the Bank’s legal department, and head of insurance supervision.

I am also delighted that Christopher Forster, who is a technical specialist at the BofE, focusing on corporate governance and enterprise-wide risk management, has agreed to respond. He is a former global head of risk management at Baring Asset Management and a former president of the ACCA.

Fortunately (perhaps), the supervisors won’t get things all their own way. Batting for the other side (as it were) are:

  • Greg Davies, who leads a global team of behavioural specialists at Barclays. He is responsible for the design and implementation of the bank’s investment philosophy.
  • Dr. Meloria Meschi, who is an MD in FTI’s economic and financial consulting practice. Her experience includes applying economic and statistical analysis to behavioural and cultural issues in the regulated sectors.

And then, to pull everything together, we have Peter Montagnon – formerly corporate governance panjandrum at the FT, the ABI and the FRC, and now associate director at the Institute of Business Ethics.

Whatever old cynics might say, this is a legitimate area for supervisors to involve themselves in. It is, however, important that they get it right.