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Behaviour and culture

The AFM supervises the behaviour and culture within financial organisations. The culture within an organisation has a large influence on the behaviour of employees. Rules alone cannot cover all of the behaviour. Insight into behaviour and culture can help signal supervision risks at an early stage.

Why investigate behaviour and culture?

The culture within an organisation largely determines the behaviour of employees. This is also the case in the financial sector. In addition to the many new rules that have been introduced, it is also important to look at the unwritten rules.

The AFM conducts investigations into behaviour and culture at financial organisations. As a result, the AFM obtains better insight into what drives people to put the customer’s interest or public interest first. These insights make it possible to identify high risk behaviour before harm is done.

Supervision of behaviour and culture is an addition to regular supervision. The AFM views a sustainable organisational culture primarily the responsibility of the organisation itself.

What is the added value of an investigation into behaviour and culture?

The insights from the investigations conducted by the AFM are of added value for both the enterprise and the AFM. The enterprise obtains insight into which patterns within its organisation influence the successful implementation of changes or act in the customer's interest. These insights can help improve the organisation’s performance. The AFM obtains insight into how changes and acting in the customer's interest works within specific organisations. This helps to better understand an organisation and thus structure our ongoing supervision more efficiently.

How is an investigation conducted?

An investigation is initiated to find out why the customer’s interest is not sufficiently institutionalized within an organisation. Guidelines have been developed for conducting an investigation with the aim of collecting data carefully and efficiently. This relates both to duration and to the burden placed on the organisation.

These investigations can be carried out among all organisations that are subject to supervision by the AFM, such as larger and smaller banks and insurance companies, but also accounting firms, pension funds, investment firms and stock exchange platforms.

Building blocks for a healthy organisation culture

It’s our ambition to identify important elements of a healthy organization culture in which the customer’s interest is centralized. We make sure that these elements, the buildings blocks, are concrete and measurable. Examples of building blocks are balanced decision making and learning from errors. By using building blocks we would like to stimulate and facilitate financial organisations to incorporate these elements into their organization culture. And thereby contribute to a healthy culture that centralizes the customer’s interest.

The relevance of different building blocks will differ between organisations. We would like to be in dialogue with the financial sector to determine which building blocks are most relevant. Do you have ideas on which building blocks are important for realizing a healthy organization culture that helps centralizing the customer’s interest? Please contact the Behaviour and Culture team behaviourculture@afm.nl.

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