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From reflex to reflection

News item supervision

Published: 30 January 2023

Ingeborg Rademakers en Melanie de Waal

Over a decade of research on behaviour and culture at banks. Much has improved, but executive and supervisory board members can become even more effective by devoting more time and attention to reflection.

Behaviour and culture

De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) began supervising behaviour and culture at financial institutions in 2011. A lot needed to happen: a vast number of incidents at banks made clear that effective operational management depends on more than just healthy financial figures. Adverse behaviour was often the cause of persistent problems, which damaged trust in the financial sector. What do things look like today? Have there been significant changes?


The main conclusion of DNB researchers Ingeborg Rademakers and Melanie de Waal[i] is that things have certainly improved, but there is still a lot of work to do. The researchers: ‘This report is part of a long-term study that enables us to draw comparisons over several years, including with the preceding period. We see that emphasis on behaviour and culture is more embedded in the financial sector than a decade ago.’

Lengthy process

‘Banks and other institutions have set up entire departments for this purpose, there are boardroom evaluations and culture features prominently during meetings. It can be a lengthy process, though: you can't just press a button and expect everything to be perfect. Moreover, things are certainly not going well everywhere. Too often managers still revert to what we call the short-term “action reflex”.’


[i] Ingeborg Rademakers and Melanie de Waal no longer work at DNB. Ingeborg has retired and Melanie has taken a new position at the Monetary Authority of Singapore

Read the full article: From reflex to reflection

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