Financial hardship fund for industry whistleblowers encouraged

The Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) has launched a Speak Up campaign encouraging financial services industry firms to adopt a Speak Up policy for whistleblowers.

New research has found there is overwhelming support for introducing US-style whistleblower incentives to the UK. When asked whether the UK should offer rewards to encourage reporting of wrongdoing by companies, as is the case in the US, 46 per cent of respondents were strongly in favour of the idea while 38 per cent were somewhat in favour. The initiative would help staff report violation of company policy, the law or any failing which impacts standards with a financial hardship fund to be set up to provide comfort to potential whistleblowers.

Following consultation with its members the CISI has produced a Speak Up Interactive Workshop and Professional Refresher Module to support the initiative which will allow firms to encourage staff across the organisation to think about how they can, and would, respond to potential issues. With live voting and interactive discussions, the Speak Up Workshop allows staff the opportunity to discuss and debate a series of true life scenarios and understand how to speak up with confidence.

The CISI encapsulates the Speak Up message through a SPEAK mnemonic, which sets out the stages of Speak Up (See, Prepare, Evaluate, Act and Keep Trying). The CISI also sets out four steps of Speak Up: raising concerns informally within your company; raising concerns formally (perhaps through the firm’s whistleblowing policy); making an external disclosure to the regulator; and finally, making a public disclosure to the media or the Government. The last two stages represent how traditional whistleblowing disclosures are made, whilst the first two stages are where the CISI believes Speak Up can make a difference.

Simon Culhane, Chartered FCSI and CISI CEO said the Speak UP campaign looks to address the issue of compensation by giving individuals the tools and the confidence to speak up early without financial incentives and by encouraging open cultures within firms where employees are encouraged and protected when speaking up, so compensation is not necessary, but financial protection is.

He added: “Speaking up carries fewer negative implications than whistleblowing and suggests a more open culture which is, in turn, the aim of having a speaking up policy or programme. “Speak Up” is about creating a culture where an individual feels comfortable raising issues of concern within a firm at the earliest point of uncertainty about a violation, rather than whistleblow, which we consider occurs when there is no other alternative and an individual may be in a desperate situation. We would encourage all firms in the industry to establish a Speak Up policy.”

“Although both the Financial Conduct Authority and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills have said that they are not in favour of providing financial incentives to whistleblowers, the CISI believes that the very real financial repercussions all too often suffered by whistleblowers means that they should be provided with financial support.

“Accordingly, we suggest that a financial hardship fund should be established, financed from fines imposed by the regulator, to provide comfort to potential whistleblowers that they will receive financial support where necessary.”

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