Banks in South Africa had an ethos and culture which was much stronger than their counterparts in Europe and the United States of America, Standard Bank's chief executive, Jacko Maree, said in Durban on Saturday night.

He was speaking at the annual Nat Nakasa journalism awards dinner, hosted by the SA National Editor's Forum and the Nieman Society of SA, where South African journalism's highest accolade was given to Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe - a leading journalist for over fifty years already.

Referring to the hostility and loss of trust the banking system overseas faced following major financial irregularities, Maree said rebuilding this confidence lay mainly with bank leadership, not necessarily the regulators of banking systems.

People would also need to acknowledge the many positives of banks' roles in society “In South Africa, it is different... we have banks here with an ethos and culture which is much stronger than in Europe and the USA.

“This is partly due to better regulation, and also that we have simpler banks - not the type of 'casino banks' found in other developed financial systems. But it is also due to better governance and leadership values (here).”

At his bank, for example, Maree said a core value was to guard against arrogance, and to balance self-belief with a healthy dose of self-doubt. - Sapa