Experts call on East African bankers to prioritise integrity and professionalism

Experts in the banking sector pose for a group photo during the opening of the conference in Kampala on July 9, 2024. PHOTO | BUSEIN SAMILU

What you need to know:

  • Mr Patrick Mususa, the executive director of Tanzania Institute of Bankers said restoring public trust in the sector is urgently needed because it is the strong foundation that supports sustainable economies.

Experts have urged bankers across East Africa to uphold professionalism and integrity among their employees to rebuild dwindling public trust in the sector.

At the opening of the 21st East African Banking School (EABS) Conference in Kampala on Tuesday, industry stakeholders highlighted the pressing need to address integrity issues affecting the banking sector.

Ms Goretti Masadde, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services (UIBFS), expressed concern over the decline in professionalism and integrity, attributing it to reduced transparency in banking operations.

“There is also the get-rich quick syndrome that is eating up our youths and this is not only in financial services. It is us to bring back trust, we cannot necessarily copy what other sectors are doing, we should be the one to bring back sense of ethics in the country as the financial service sector,” she said.

Mr Patrick Mususa, the executive director of Tanzania Institute of Bankers said restoring public trust in the sector is urgently needed because it is the strong foundation that supports sustainable economies.

“As institutions we have a role to ensure that we align the code of ethics across the financial institutions and banks to ensure that they provide reliable services,” he said.

He added: “Our economies depend on banks and other financial institutions as the intermediaries facilitating the flow of capital between the holders of capital and the stakeholders that conduct productive activities that develop the economy.”

The conference, organised by UIBFS in collaboration with the Kenya Institute of Bankers and Tanzania Institute of Bankers, focused on themes such as the Role of Financial Services in Building Sustainable Regional Economies. It aimed to foster networking, knowledge exchange, and professional development among industry players.

Mr Peter Gitau, Head of Membership and Partnership at the Kenya Institute of Bankers, underscored the pivotal role of ethics in shaping organisational culture and maintaining trust.

“Ethics define who we are as individuals and institutions. You can have 20 years of education and can be lost in a minute because of ethics,” he said

Mr Michael Mugabi, the managing director of Housing Finance bank called for financial service providers to stay ahead of industry trends and enhance strategies geared to continually meet the evolving needs of customers and stakeholders across the banking industry in East Africa.

Meanwhile, Mr Francis Yiga Banalekaki, the Head of Audit at Diamond Trust Bank, highlighted challenges such as fraud and cybersecurity threats, emphasising the need for proactive risk management strategies.

Mr Mugabi Michael, the board chairperson of UIBFS, in his keynote address underscored the role of the conference in fostering dialogue, innovation, and strategic partnerships within the banking sector.

“For Uganda, hosting this 21st conference is a momentous occasion. It reflects our nation's strides in becoming a central hub for financial thought leadership and innovation. This opportunity allows us to showcase our advancements and the dynamic growth of our financial sector. It is a proud moment for us to host such a distinguished assembly and to facilitate discussions that will shape the future of banking in our region,” he said.