From: Bob Jones, Old National Bancorp chairman and CEO
In recent weeks, an ethics-related scandal at one of our nation’s top banks has led to extensive media coverage. As chairman and CEO of Old National Bank and the chairman-elect of the Midsized Bank Coalition Association, I’m troubled by what has come to light.
What’s also troubling is the false narrative that dubious ethical practices are widespread in the banking industry. This is the same flawed logic that caused all financial institutions to be painted with the same broad brush in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
The fact is, the overwhelming majority of banks do not take advantage of clients. Instead, we work to help them gain the advantage of financial security and independence, while also serving as catalysts for economic and community development.
At times, regional banks also find opportunities to set aside competition and join together for the betterment of our communities. One particularly powerful illustration is the ongoing Bank On initiative in our region. This collective effort, which serves the unbanked and underbanked populations with tailored products and services, began in 2009 in Old National’s headquarters city of Evansville. Today, 15 Bank On programs in our Midwestern footprint are helping at-risk individuals take greater control of their finances.
For the majority of banks, ethics are not viewed as a stumbling block to be navigated. Rather, they serve as a compass that guides decisions and helps define our mission, vision and culture. In fact, Old National is humbled to have been named one of the “World’s Most Ethical Companies” by the prestigious Ethisphere Institute for five consecutive years. Like so many of our peers, we support our communities through sponsorships and partnerships, and our employees are passionate about helping their neighbors achieve their financial goals. And with more than 183,000 individuals employed by mid-sized banks, we also provide essential job opportunities within the communities we serve.
Of course, banking is a business, and all institutions are striving to produce returns for our shareholders while supporting our communities. The good news is, it’s possible to achieve this success without ever losing sight of what’s best for the customer. When we help local families and business owners secure long-term success, everyone benefits.
Without a doubt, the ethical missteps that have come to light in recent weeks deserve strong criticism. My hope, as both bank CEO and private citizen, is that we will soon reach a place where all Americans have confidence in their bank of choice to place integrity and ethics ahead of short-term goals.
If anyone has any questions about the role of the financial industry in supporting clients and community in an ethical manner, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 812-464-1280 or [email protected].