Nicole Frew is EVP and Chief Compliance Officer for Scotiabank. In her role, Nicole leads the Bank’s Global Compliance function to ensure we are doing the right thing wherever we do business and we are meeting the increasing expectations of all our customers.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Nicole and talk about the role compliance plays in keeping the Bank safe, the impact of the global pandemic and the important role trust plays in sustaining strong customer relationships.

Nicole, your team is responsible for Scotiabank’s Code of Conduct. Tell us a little about conduct and the role it plays in keeping customers safe.

Our Code of Conduct is much more than a document. It’s a promise upheld by every Scotiabank employee; one we make to our customers, to the communities which we’re privileged to serve, to our fellow Scotiabankers and to our regulators. This is our ethical benchmark and every Scotiabanker is expected to live the values, behaviours, and expectations set out in our Code. Our customers trust us to do the right thing. When we talk about safeguarding that trust, our Code of Conduct is our playbook. We are invested in living up to these principles, both in letter and in spirit, because doing the right thing is not a tick-the-box exercise. It’s what we are focused on 365 days a year.

You assumed the role of Chief Compliance Officer for Scotiabank in September 2020. Tell us a little bit about your experience to date and the role that the compliance team plays.

The one thing everyone should know is that as a customer of Scotiabank, you have a global team of passionate and dedicated professionals to serve you, and that includes our compliance team. We operate in over 30 countries globally, and I’m honored to be part of this fantastic team! When customers think of a bank, they’re probably not thinking about compliance, but it’s worth noting that a healthy compliance program is an important foundation for a healthy bank. We see the trust of our customers, communities, regulators, shareholders and employees as our most valued asset. Every Scotiabank employee – all 90,000 of us! – plays a role in safeguarding that trust, meaning compliance is one of the largest team sports you can play.

Doing the right thing and putting our customers and communities first is what’s driven our success for 189 years. We are committed to ensuring customers have peace of mind when they bank with us.

The impact of COVID-19 has been seen and felt globally. What’s the one thing Scotiabank’s customers should know about how the Bank has responded to the pandemic?

2020 was a challenging year on many fronts. All of us have been affected by the pandemic, and Scotiabankers are no exception, so we understand the significant stress that our customers might be under. First and foremost, they should know that we’re here for them. Since the pandemic began, Scotiabankers have worked tirelessly to deliver relief programs and innovative solutions to meet our customers’ changing needs. We’ve talked to our customers and listened firsthand to what they need. We’ve also worked in lockstep with regulators to understand how to support people the right way while navigating these extraordinary circumstances. The pandemic has been an important chance for us to lean in and really think about the ways we can enable our customers to see through and “bounce-forward” from the challenges of COVID-19.

Finally, trust seems to be a big part of our world. What does it mean for you?

Trust is our foundation. It’s intangible and it’s priceless. It’s perhaps the single most important factor in our continued success. When customers bank with us, it’s not just about a product or transaction or a service. They’re putting their faith in us. It’s up to us to be at the forefront of changing expectations. A good example is developing ethical standards for how we collect and protect customer data. We need to prove that we can safeguard that information because companies don’t get second chances. As we’ve seen, trust is also fragile – and it takes a long time to rebuild. No organization is perfect. It’s about how we respond and make things right. Every interaction we have is an opportunity for us to strengthen trust and enrich our relationship with our customers and our communities, and our promise is to try and always get it right.

This article originally appeared in Advice Matters.