The stability of the Australian economy is strongly influenced and anchored by the strength of the insurance, superannuation and banking industries. There is no question that the wealth of these sectors is necessary for the continued prosperity of Australia.
This was clearly evident during the Global Financial Crisis and now in the post mining boom era. Australia came out of the former relatively unscathed.
However, there appears to be a preponderance of attention, by the banks and the insurance companies and to a limited extent the superannuation companies, on their shareholders rather than the main stakeholders in their wealth supply chain- namely the individuals and businesses that engage with and are the main suppliers of the “wealth”.
The latter are dependent on the fair and equitable conduct of the banks and insurance companies, and this should go beyond good customer service to caring for their welfare.
A stab in the right direction has been engagement by these companies in corporate social responsibility and the swell in corporate volunteering, workplace giving and sponsoring of workplace programs. This is a great step in the right direction, but it often does not focus on the individuals and businesses that directly engage with the banks and insurance companies.
There must therefore be a concerted effort to get back to basics and provide true benefits and care for those struggling individuals and businesses who are now affected by the downturn in the economy.
Those stakeholders were the mainstay of the banks and insurance companies in the good times and it is time that they were afforded special assistance and support for their loyalty in the not so good times.
This social conscience aspect would go very far in raising the profile of the banks and insurance companies and arguably result in regaining the trust and confidence that may have ebbed in the era of economic rationalism.
It is time for human rationalism and arguably, this move to stakeholder management from shareholder management, might actually result in a stronger and more robust economy- because trust will have been re-established.
Financial gains will follow.