Against a background of distrust in banks and increasing regulation, Allied Irish Bank UK (AIB) has faced continuous challenges over a decade. It had to tackle some deep-rooted challenges but more importantly it had to rebuild a business that’s fit for the future. Its people no longer felt empowered to make decisions and were reluctant to take any ownership. The firm recognised that it had to refocus and put the customer first.
In December 2016 a reorganised senior management team made cultural ambition the foundation pillar of its One UK strategy, focused on inspiring employees to shift mindset and behaviours towards balanced risk, innovation and a customer-centric approach.
"Leadership has led by example through greater visibility and stronger communication"
A series of interactive culture ‘hackathon’ sessions were used to evaluate the hypotheses for the future culture and explore the impact on capabilities, mindset, environment and customer. These informed a culture model based on six pillars: organisation, leadership, energy, relationships, communication and action. AIB identified the desired behaviours for each of these pillars and conducted a series of 1:1s and interactive focus groups to measure progress against the behaviours.
The strategy has delivered: the bank’s iConnect and culture surveys resulted in a score of 4.34 out of 5 and a positive attitude to change and commitment to working at pace. Leadership has led by example through greater visibility and stronger communication, with 77% of survey participants agreeing they were “able to make decisions without always checking with my manager”.
But, of course, what matters most is business impact. In 2018, the bank reported a 33% increase in new lending, operating contribution up 32% and net increase income up 22%. Moreover, the culture programme has helped to build a business that’s fit for the future, with the right capabilities and ways of working necessary to enable the bank’s goals and ambitions.