Progress on banking culture is being made but the industry needs to continue to learn lessons and a focus on fair customer outcomes is still critical, according to the Irish Banking Culture Board.

The Irish Banking Culture Board said the last year was a challenging one against a backdrop of both Covid and significant change in the banking sector in Ireland.

Publishing its 2020-2021 annual report, the Irish Banking Culture Board said that it was evident that member banks proactively supported their customers, particularly the vulnerable, through the Covid-19 crisis.

It said this was encouraging and was a demonstration of positive culture and behaviour.

The board also said it has continued to refine its strategic priorities for the year to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on bank customers and staff from a behaviour and culture perspective continues to be addressed.

During the year, IBCB conducted two independent surveys of bank staff and customers in relation to the culture they experience in their banks.

It said its Bank Staff survey results show significant progress being made internally across all IBCB member banks since 2018.

But the Public Trust in Banking survey showed that internal changes in culture have yet to resonate externally with a significant majority of bank customers and the public in general.

The IBCB said it recognises that achieving this is crucial for the future of the industry and for overall pride levels of staff.

IBCB chief executive Marion Kelly said that building trust takes time, and as it enters its third year, the IBCB is as determined as ever to continue working with member banks to assist the industry so the internal change in banking culture translates externally to the public.

"Upcoming change will see fewer banks operating in the sector and Covid's acceleration of the transition to digital banking, by ever growing numbers of customers and associated effect on branch networks, will continue to impact customers," Ms Kelly said.

"While it is not the role of the Board to focus on the commercial aspects of member bank decisions, it is our role to consider the effect of those decisions and whether they are fair and implemented in accordance with the behaviours the IBCB promotes," she added.