By Rob Starr, Content Manager, Big4.com
Making a bank a successful business has taken on a special importance and significance since the fiscal crisis of 2008 ended. When WeiserMazars recently announced their participation in The Good Bank Initiative that will look to put together the ingredient list for these post financial crisis institutions, they joined as one of the participating countries in the Mazars Group, along with Credit Suisse and SAP in a global dialogue.
WeiserMazars’ Stephen Brecher recently talked with Big4.com about the origins of the five month program that will stimulate a debate around what makes a socially engaged bank a good enterprise.
“There are four countries that are heavily involved in this project,” Brecher said. “France where Mazars was founded, the UK where our partner was (until fairly recently) the Irish Bank regulator, the US and Italy.”
He went on to say two initial motivators sparked the global conversation that will include debates, research and articles all leading up to a live and online broadcast originating in London on June 4th.
“In order to understand why a firm like Mazars would want to get involved with this, it’s really important to understand Mazars culture,” Brecher explains noting that although WeiserMazars is an independent member firm, there is still a strong global partnership.
“So there is a connectivity that is unique among the other major global accounting firms.”
There will be three key themes guiding The Good Bank initiative and these include dialogue around the innovative, the trustworthy and the effective bank. Along with the aforementioned broadcast, a summary report is scheduled to be released in early July.
Brecher went on to say that WeiserMazars’ desire for both transparency and openness was the second driver that drew the firm to The Good Bank. He went on to talk about the rapidly changing times for the financial industry.
“In the financial services industry, banks, investment banks, insurance companies are facing many reputational challenges,” he said noting there have been a number of “missteps” over the last several years leading to a deluge in regulatory transformations in the UK and United States.
“We believe that we can provide collective intelligence from our experts in different jurisdictions. We have shared values and we believe that it’s important to have a dialogue on what’s in the pubic interest,” Brecher said adding that WeiserMazars was fully aware the focus also needed to be placed on shareholder value.
He also discussed several issues facing the banking sector including capping executive compensation.
“Here’s where there’s a balance for the industry,” Brecher says, “between how to compensate competent executives, how to service clients and provide liquidity to the marketplace in an efficient manner and also provide shareholder value.”
He said that balancing those three items was one of the issues he planned to bring up for debate.
One of the other topics Brecher stressed was the regulatory environment, primarily in the United States and Europe, and how the need to gauge the amount of available capital was driving regulatory change on a more regional rather than global stage.
“One of the criticisms during the financial crisis was that banks were not providing liquidity but if the need to have more capital drives that part of it, it will reduce the ability to provide liquidity,” he said adding there was another balancing element needed like the one for executive compensations.
Beyond being a WeiserMazars partner, Stephen Brecher is also an ambassador of The Good Bank Initiative.