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Experts call on East African bankers to prioritise integrity and professionalism

Experts have urged bankers across East Africa to maintain professionalism and integrity among their employees to rebuild waning public confidence in the sector.

At the opening of the 21st East African Banking School (EABS) Conference in Kampala on Tuesday, industry players highlighted the urgent need to address integrity issues affecting the banking sector.

Ms Goretti Masadde, Executive Director of the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services (UIBFS), expressed concern over the decline in professionalism and integrity, attributing it to less transparency in banking operations.

“There is also the get-rich-quick syndrome that is devouring our youth and this is not only happening in financial services. It is up to us to regain confidence, we cannot necessarily copy what other sectors do, we should be the ones to recover the sense of ethics in the country as a financial services sector,” he said.

Mr Patrick Mususa, Executive Director of the Tanzania Institute of Bankers, said there is an urgent need to restore public confidence in the sector because it is the solid foundation that underpins sustainable economies.

“As institutions, we have a role to ensure that we align the code of ethics across all financial institutions and banks to ensure that they provide trustworthy services,” he said.

He added: “Our economies depend on banks and other financial institutions as intermediaries that facilitate the flow of capital between capital holders and stakeholders who carry out productive activities that develop the economy.”

The conference, organised by UIBFS in collaboration with the Kenya Institute of Bankers and the Tanzania Institute of Bankers, focused on topics such as the role of financial services in creating sustainable regional economies and aimed to foster networking, knowledge sharing and professional development among industry players.

Mr. Peter Gitau, Director of Membership and Association of the Kenya Institute of Bankers, underlined the critical role of ethics in shaping organisational culture and maintaining trust.

“Ethics defines who we are as individuals and institutions. You can have 20 years of education and be lost in a minute because of ethics,” he said.

Mr. Michael Mugabi, CEO of Housing Finance Bank, has called on financial service providers to stay ahead of industry trends and enhance strategies geared towards continuously meeting the changing needs of customers and stakeholders across the banking industry in East Africa.

Meanwhile, Mr. Francis Yiga Banalekaki, Head of Audit at Diamond Trust Bank, highlighted challenges such as fraud and cybersecurity threats, emphasizing the need for proactive risk management strategies.

Mr. Mugabi Michael, Chairman of the Board of Directors of UIBFS, in his opening remarks underlined the role of the conference in fostering dialogue, innovation and strategic partnerships within the banking sector.

“Hosting this 21st conference is a momentous occasion for Uganda. It reflects our nation’s progress towards becoming a central hub for financial leadership and innovation. This opportunity allows us to showcase our advancements and the dynamic growth of our financial sector. It is a proud moment for us to host such a distinguished gathering and facilitate discussions that will shape the future of banking in our region,” he said.

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