21st Nov 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 21 November 2014

    HMT U-turns on tax powers

    The front page of the Telegraph reports that the Treasury has watered down its plans to give HMRC powers to take money directly out of people’s bank accounts without permission if they are believed to owe tax.  The new safeguards will ensure that taxpayers have to have a face-to-face meeting first and that they will have the right of appeal through the county courts.  Crucially the plans will not now be put into primary legislation until after the general election.

    The BBA raised concerns about the proposals in the summer and signed a letter to the Sunday Times along with a broad coalition of groups such as Liberty and the Law Society – calling them a “power too far”.

    HMT gives up on bonus cap challenge

    Following on from the news that the EU Advocate General had ruled against the UK legal challenge to the EU bonus cap, the UK Government has decided to withdraw its case.  Chancellor George Osborne is quoted in the FT (£, p2) saying: “I’m not going to spend taxpayers’ money on a legal challenge now unlikely to succeed. The fact remains these are badly designed rules that are pushing up bankers’ pay, not reducing it. These rules may be legal but they are entirely self-defeating, so we need to find another way to end rewards for failure in our banks.”  In a letter to Mark Carney in his role as chairman of the Financial Stability Board the Chancellor urges him to push for global standards including looking at the idea of performance bonds: “I was interested by some of the ideas floated by President William Dudley of the New York Federal Reserve which would increase accountability by putting more of senior bankers’ remuneration at risk.”

    The article quotes the BBA saying:  “We believe that shareholders should be given powers to determine staff pay – not politicians.  We believe this law runs counter to recent reforms and will make the system less robust by incentivising firms to increase fixed pay. It also puts European banks at a disadvantage when competing with firms in other parts of the world.”

    US warns on EU benchmark plans

    The US could be forced into tougher regulation if proposed European rules on benchmarks  prevent access for EU banks and asset managers to US markets, reports the FT (£, p30). Timothy Massad, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission warned senior US policy makers that the European Commission’s tougher oversight of benchmarks could have “adverse markets consequences”. EU proposals seek to prohibit European-supervised banks and asset managers from using benchmarks outside of the EU. In a letter seen by the FT, Mr Massad wrote: “The US does not have such a supervisory regime and in the absence of any changes, the third-country equivalency requirement would prohibit EU institutions from hedging using thousands of products traded on US futures exchanges and swap execution facilities”.

    UKIP wins second by-election

    UKIP have won the by-election in Rochester and Strood.  Former Conservative MP Mark Reckless won by 2,920 votes.  The Green Party came fourth, while the Lib Dems got their lowest total ever (BBC).

20th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Bank of England unveils recommendations on leverage ratio

    The Bank of England has recommended that the Treasury flex new powers granted to it to direct the Prudential Regulation Authority to set leverage ratio requirements. The BBA’s Emily Hoquee examines how this could enhance the safety of the UK banking industry.

  • BBA response to bonus cap ruling

    Responding to the EU Advocate General’s opinion on the EU bonus cap legislation, a BBA spokesman said:

    “We continue to support the Treasury’s challenge to this legislation.  There have already been sweeping changes made to the way that bank staff are paid since the financial crisis. Bonuses are smaller and staff are rewarded for making decisions that benefit businesses, shareholders and the broader economy.

    “We believe that shareholders should be given powers to determine staff pay – not politicians. That’s why banks consult with investors before setting staff pay and shareholders also have the power to vote on the pay of senior bankers.

    “We believe this law runs counter to recent reforms and will make the system less robust by incentivising firms to increase fixed pay.  It also puts European banks at a disadvantage when competing with firms in other parts of the world.”

  • BBA Brief – 20 November 2014

    EU Advocate General says bonus cap law is valid

    Niilo Jääskinen, the EU Advocate General, has this morning said that the EU law to restrict bankers’ variable pay is valid.  George Osborne, the Chancellor, launched a legal challenge to the rule which aims to restrict bonuses to 100% of salaries – or 200% if a bank’s shareholders approve. Mr Jääskinen’s statement said: “Given that the variable component of remuneration impacts directly on the risk profile of financial institutions, it can affect the stability of financial institutions who can operate freely across the EU, and in consequence that of the financial markets of the EU.” The Advocate General’s opinion is not binding, but the ECJ rarely goes against it. The ECJ’s final decision will be made next year.

    Shafik – bankers who fixed foreign exchange should pay back bonuses

    Nemat Shafik, the recently appointed Bank of England Deputy Governor, has suggested that the threat of jail would be a better deterrent to keep rogue bankers in check than large fines, the Guardian (p30) reports. The economist also said she expected those banks with staff found to be involved in the manipulation of foreign exchange markets would pare back bonuses to such individuals. Speaking to members of the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, Ms Shafiq said: “Individual accountability, particularly criminal sanctions are the most powerful inducements to better behaviour.”

    MPC increasingly divided over economic outlook

    Most newspapers report the increasing divergence of opinions on the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee.  Although the margin of members voting for a rate rise remained split at 2-7, the minutes from this month’s meeting record a “material spread of views” amongst those pushing for a hold. The Daily Mail (p78) suggests that concerns over the strength of output, employment growth and consumer spending could lead the MPC to move on rates before the end of next year.

    European Commission announces new transparency drive

    EU Observer reports that the European Commission has announced a new transparency drive, promising that contacts with lobbyists will have to be publicly recorded and documents relating to an EU-US trade are made available to all MEPs. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans is quoted as saying:  “I think we have moved from a time where government had an attitude towards the public of ‘trust me’ to a situation now where the public says to government ‘show me!’ And we want to show you.”

    Under the plans, Commissioners, members of their cabinets and the heads of the various departments of the Commission will all have to make public their meetings with lobbyists and other pressure groups, the article writes.

19th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Keeping up the momentum

    Paul Chisnall assesses this week’s TSC report on the progress of banking reform and the statement by former members of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards.

  • BBA Brief – 19 November 2014

    City at risk to ISIS cyber attack, warns police

    Adrian Leppard, the City of London Police Commissioner, has warned that there is a “very strong likelihood” that jihadis will launch a cyberattack on the City unless more is done to protect against online incursions, the FT reports (£, p3). Mr Leppard singled out the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as a potential perpetrator, and told the paper that western societies needed to balance the benefits of technological progress with the “huge harm” an attack could wreak. The BBA’s report “The cyber threat to banking: a global industry challenge” is available online.

    Women’s enterprise celebrated

    The BBA and its partners celebrated the successes of female business owners in London last night at the Excellence in Women’s Enterprise Mentoring Awards. Nominees and their business mentors were honoured at the BT Tower at a ceremony attended by more than 60 people. The winners were:

    Growth – Hadland Care Group
    Start Up – Black Energy Renewables
    Export and Innovation – Dunnet Bay Distillers
    Best Mentor – Chelsey Baker and Jeanette Forbes
    Digital Enterprise (sponsored by BT) – REALsafe Technology

    Coco bonds nearly triple this year

    The number of contingent convertible bond deals has nearly tripled this year, as banks have issued bumper volumes of riskier but higher-yielding debt in the current low-interest-rate environment (FT, £, p30). European financial institutions’ issuance for coco bonds stands at $31.8 billion (£20.3 billion) via 20 deals for 2014, compared with $15 billion (£9.6 billion) and 14 deals in 2013, the paper writes, adding that coco issuance accounts for just under a tenth of all subordinated bank debt issues in Europe this year.

    S&P warn Bank of England on UK recovery

    Standard and Poor’s says the Bank of England has greatly underestimated the degree of slack in the British economy and risks killing the recovery by tightening too soon, the Telegraph writes (B4). The paper quotes S&P’s chief European economist Jean-Michael Six: “We don’t see any tangible signs of a housing bubble…the UK is cooling off. It is nothing to be alarmed about, but we think a premature rate rise could put the recovery in jeopardy. There is a long way to go before deciding the horse is going too fast and needs to be reined in.”

18th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Stay ahead of cybercriminals and next generation threats with help from IBM Red Cell

    How much do you know about financial crime? Do you know your malware from your money laundering? Find out more at IBM Red Cell’s Counter Financial Crimes Symposium.

  • BBA Brief – 18 November 2014

    Carney’s tough stance on remuneration

    A number of papers report on Mark Carney’s calls to for bankers’ salaries – not just their bonuses – to be put under scrutiny if they are found to have broken rules. In a lecture in Singapore, the Governor of the Bank of England said the EU bonus cap has “the undesirable side-effect of limiting the scope for remuneration to be cut”, therefore “standards may need to be developed to put non-bonus or fixed pay at risk”. He cited the idea of president of the New York Federal Reserve William Dudley, who suggested that senior staff receive a portion of their salary in ‘performance bonds’, which would be forfeited in the case of a large fine and could help recapitalise a bank (FT, £, p2).

    In the wake of the foreign exchange rigging scandal, Dr Carney argued that “the repeated nature of these fines demonstrate that financial penalties alone are not sufficient to address issues raised” (Times, £, p43). He added that the rising number of scandals “mean it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples. The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored” (Guardian, p28).

    However, the Telegraph (B1) suggests that Dr Carney’s proposals could clash with the European Banking Authority’s opinion, stating that “pay that can be clawed back would count as a bonus”, and would therefore be subject to the EU bonus cap. Pinsent Masons partner Steven Cochrane told the paper: “It is extremely unlikely that existing contracts of employment would allow for this…any such changes to how banks treat fixed pay would represent a sea change in compensation culture and deter talent from entering financial services.”

    Europe edges closer to full QE

    The European Central Bank’s president Mario Draghi told MEPs that the Bank may buy government bonds if the eurozone economy deteriorates further, with the Times (£, p42) stating that this was his “first explicit statement that full-blown quantitative easing was on the cards”. He added that the central bank’s policies were already having a positive effect: “We are seeing early indications that our credit-easing package is delivering tangible benefits.” He also assured parliamentarians that the “euro is irreversible and the ECB will do whatever it takes within its mandate”. CityAM (p2) reports that an announcement of government bond purchases could come at the next ECB decision on 4 December.

    FCA asks financial firms to improve complaints handling

    A Financial Conduct Authority review into complaints handling practices has found that firms “could – and should – do more to deliver fair complaint handling and consistent outcomes for all consumers”, reports the Guardian (p30). Recommendations include phone lines for complaints costing no more than the basic rate and for all complaints to be reported to the FCA. The 15 unnamed companies under review – which range from banks to insurance firms – have agreed to adhere to these changes. Read BBA Policy Advisor Melanie Worthy’s thoughts below on the improving nature of the complaints handling review.

17th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • A better remedy for complaints

    The BBA’s Melanie Worthy explains why today’s FCA review of the way banks and other companies handle complaints is getting better – and has important advice on how to further improve these systems.

  • BBA Brief – 17 November 2014

    PCBS calls for reform momentum to be maintained

    The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards has widely briefed this morning’s papers warning that its proposals for reform could be stalling and calling on the Government and the banking industry to implement them in full.  They argued that “it is essential that the momentum behind our reforms is maintained. There is much still to do.” (Times, £, p40 Independent, p7)

    Cameron – “red warning lights” flashing for global economy – calls for trade reform

    Writing in the Guardian (p31) Prime Minister David Cameron warns that “red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy.”  He sets out a number of measures to help push forward global growth and prioritises an EU trade agreement with America and reform of World Trade Organisation.  He writes:“At this G20 I brought together a crucial meeting between President Obama and fellow European leaders to insist on urgent progress on a comprehensive EU-US trade deal that could add £10 billion to the UK economy alone. The new European Commission must put this at the top of its to-do list. At a time when the Eurozone is stalling we cannot duck such an opportunity for growth. We should sign more deals with Australia, and with China and India too. We need to persuade more countries of the benefits of free trade and open markets for all our peoples and for the wider world. We are also pressing for reform of the World Trade Organisation so that poverty busting trade deals are put together, agreed and implemented more quickly.”  His comments were echoed by Angela Merkel in her press conference in Brisbane. (Euractiv)

    FCA in spot inspections in investment banks

    The Times (£, p40) reports that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is making unannounced spot inspections of trading floors, which involve conducting interviews with traders about the positions they are taking in the market.  The traders are reported to be given no warning of the interviews – something that the FCA is said to see as important so that they can properly understand the culture at each investment bank.

    RBS in inclusion review

    RBS global head of inclusion Marjorie Strachan tells the Times (£, p5) that the bank is looking at introducing a more gender neutral title of “Mx” as opposed to Mr or Miss.  Emphasising the importance of staff training for transgender customers, she said: “We recognise it can be extremely upsetting if a customer who is undergoing gender re-assignment walks into a branch and doesn’t have an easy option in explaining their needs.” The article also reports that the bank may stop asking for a mother’s maiden name as a security question due to the rise of two-father families.  A spokesman for Stonewall, the gay equality campaign group, said: “The best businesses in 21st-century Britain are ones who respond to the needs of all their customers, that includes LGBT people, people with two dads or people who change their gender.”

    Labour looks to restrict bonuses for takeovers

    Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna has told the Times (£, 37) that large bonuses for bankers involved in corporate takeovers should be restricted.  “We need greater transparency on the way people who advise on these transactions are rewarded,” he said. “We need to look at whether it is appropriate to have huge success payments for takeovers that incentivise advisers to complete a deal even if it might not be in a company’s best interests.  At the moment, there is a takeover bus that once it has started is very hard to stop and that builds behind transactions without thought for the impact on the company. This is one reason we will restrict voting rights of shareholders who appear on a register after a takeover is announced to stop carpet-baggers and speculators”.

14th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 14 November 2014

    De-risking in the banking industry

    The FT’s ‘Big Read’ (£, p13) focuses on the phenomenon of ‘de-risking’.  It warns that as “regulators have cracked down on money laundering and terrorist finance, banks have severed their ties with many clients in developing nations in an attempt to limit the risk of being hit by massive fines. The banks and other critics say this carries an unintended humanitarian cost by adding charities and non-governmental organisations to the ranks of the ‘de-banked’.”

    The article quotes from a private report by the BBA and other organisations which shows the scale of the challenge.  The article says, “Research from the International Chamber of Commerce suggests a major impact on trade finance. Drawing on the responses of 298 banks in 127 countries, it found that anti-money laundering and “know-your-customer” requirements had led to 68 per cent of surveyed banks declining transactions in 2013. Africa was the hardest hit, and small and medium-sized businesses were the most acutely affected sector.”  The paper says that the BBA’s report was discussed at the global standard setting body – the Financial Action Task Force in October.   Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has also voiced concerns and said that the matter would be discussed at the G20 this week. He warned of the possibility of “parts of the world being unbanked or less actively banked” and called for better co-ordination between regulators. Scott Paul, senior humanitarian policy adviser at Oxfam America described the situation that banks face as “a case of non-negligible risk and negligible reward”.

    New payments regulator sets out approach to regulating the industry

    Yesterday the Payment Systems Regulator published its proposed shake-up of the payments infrastructure in the UK.  The FT (£, p4) notes that one of the main areas of focus for the new regulator will be the ownership of the payments infrastructure with the new chief executive of the PSR, Hannah Nixon commenting “One of the things we’re really focused on is how to get easier, better access to the systems directly. Some challengers will want to go through the sponsor bank because it’s easier for them. But we want to make sure direct access is as straightforward as it can be and that those who go indirectly can do it easily.”  The PSR also intends to take responsibility for setting payments strategy and will take over some quasi regulatory functions currently carried out by the Payments Council.

    G20 Summit starts today

    Leaders of the G20 countries meet in Brisbane today. Ahead of the meeting the Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has written in the Australian media that the focus of the summit should be on jobs and growth. He writes: “Six years ago, the impacts of the global financial crisis reverberated throughout the world. While those crisis years are behind us, we still struggle with its legacy of debt and joblessness. The challenge for G20 leaders is clear – to lift growth, boost jobs and strengthen financial resilience. We need to encourage demand to ward off the deflation that threatens the major economies of Europe”. The Australian Finance Minister, Joe Hockey has also promised “very aggressive approaches” on dealing with tax avoidance by multinational companies (BBC News).

13th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 13 November 2014

    Banking fines for forex manipulation

    It was announced yesterday that banks will be fined a total of £2.7 billion as regulators from the UK, US and Switzlerland impose fines for traders’ attempts to manipulate the foreign exchange markets (Times, £, p1). The Guardian (p1) reports that these banking fines have resulted in a £1.1 billion windfall for the Treasury ahead of next month’s Autumn Statement. Though decisions have not yet been made regarding how the money will be spent, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg identified the NHS and tax cuts for those on low and middle incomes as possible uses. The Independent (p4) reports that the Serious Fraud Office is investigating to establish whether it can bring criminal actions against those responsible.

    Young should learn about savings

    The Church of England has said that children as young as 4 should be encouraged to attend “savings clubs” in schools, in a bid to teach them about money to avoid them turning to payday lenders in the future (Mail, p32). The proposals have been put together by a taskforce, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and chaired by Sir Hector Sants, former head of the Financial Conduct Authority. They are now seeking funding for a pilot of the scheme which will invite credit unions and building societies to set up “branches” inside primary schools, run by local volunteers (Telegraph, p4).

    Rate rise may not happen until next autumn

    The Bank of England’s quarterly inflation report suggests that markets shouldn’t be factoring in a short term increase in interest rates (Sky). The Bank also forecast that inflation is likely to fall below 1%, something Governor Mark Carney expects to have to write to the Chancellor to explain. Dr Carney said that “the spectre of economic stagnation” hangs over the eurozone, though forecasts showed that UK growth would remain high at 2.9% next year.

12th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 12 November 2014

    Forex fines

    Sky News reports that the Financial Conduct Authority and the Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have fined five banks more than £2 billion collectively for colluding in key foreign exchange markets. BBC News adds that the fines follow a year-long investigation by regulators.

    Low mortgage rates raise hopes for economic recovery in 2015

    The Independent (p57) reports that mortgage rates have sunk to an all-time low, raising hopes that improving household finances can drive a stronger-than-expected recovery in 2015. Bank of England data found that the average cost of a two-year fixed-rate deal with a 25% deposit sank 0.22 percentage points in October, and the interest rate on a mortgage with a 90% loan to value has sunk from 4.5% in June to 3.99%.

    UK and Swiss banks will be “least impacted” by TLAC rules

    City AM (p15) says new rules presented by the Financial Stability Board mean that UK and Swiss banks will be best placed for new capital buffers. Under the rules, all globally systemically important banks will issue more capital to build up the buffers of total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC). The paper quotes Citi’s Andrew Coombs, who says UK and Swiss banks will be the least impacted by the rules as they will benefit from existing holding company structures from which they can issue senior. Click here to read BBA Senior Policy Director Adam Cull’s thoughts on the proposals.

11th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Switching my bank for an app

    Push Technology’s Ros Elmes tells BBA Insight how technology has made banking even easier, and highlights the challenges retail banks face in the race to innovate and deliver a better digital service to their customers.

  • Latvian Presidency to focus on strengthening the Single Market

    On 1 January Latvia will take over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time. The BBA’s Ashley Dorrington travelled to Riga to find out more about the Latvian presidency’s priorities.

  • BBA Brief – 11 November 2014

    Impact of FSB proposals assessed

    A number of papers review yesterday’s Financial Stability Board (FSB) proposals for total loss-absorbing capacity (TLAC). The Times (£, p52) notes that the rules are not dissimilar to the Vickers report, which “envisaged capital [requirements] of 17% of risk-weighted assets. The FT (£, p17) reports that dividends and bonuses are likely to be affected due to an increase in funding costs for globally systemically important banks (G-SIBs). The Telegraph (B3) adds that the rules could “see the biggest banks cede market share to those not deemed ‘systemically important’”. However, David Ereira, banking partner at Linklaters, said: “The FSB proposal is an important step in solving ‘too big to fail’…However, on its own it is insufficient to deal with the issue” (Guardian, p23).

    The BBC quotes BBA chief executive Anthony Browne: “The banking industry strongly supports this work, which is a really important step in ending ‘too big to fail’ and ensuring that never again will taxpayers have to step in to bail out banks. We agree with the aims and objectives of the proposals for total loss absorbing capacity (‘TLAC’), that there should be sufficient resources available to absorb losses in the event of bank failure and provide new capital to ensure critical economic functions can continue to be provided.” Read BBA Senior Policy Director Adam Cull’s thoughts on the proposals below.

    FCA announces restrictions for payday lenders

    The FCA has this morning revealed restrictions on the amount that payday lenders can charge their customers. The regulator announced that payday loan rates will be capped at 0.8% of the amount borrowed a day. No one will have to pay back more than double the original loan, with a £15 cap on default charges. The BBC notes that the price cap plan “remains unchanged from proposals the regulator published in July.” The Telegraph writes that “the unprecedented crackdown could put all but the three biggest players out of business”. However, consumer experts have warned that the regulator’s plans “do not go far enough in protecting vulnerable borrowers”, writes the Guardian.

    Party leaders clash over EU at CBI conference

    Prime Minister David Cameron told conference delegates an EU referendum was not scaring off inward investment into the UK, and reiterated his desire to reform the EU, writes the FT (£, p3). He said: “Simply standing here and saying, ‘I will stay in Europe, I will stick with whatever we have, come what may’ is not a plan”. Conversely, Labour leader Ed Miliband warned the conference that “leaving the single market would be a disaster for our country”. He added that Labour would “implement big reform of the banking system so that it is properly competitive and there are banks in every region with the sole purpose of lending to businesses in that region”. CBI president Sir Michael Rake opened the conference by stating that staying in a reformed EU “is overwhelmingly in our national interest” (Independent, p7).

    The clashes continued in the House of Commons as the floor “descended into chaos and achrimony” due to confusion over the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), writes the Times (£, p1). Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to return from the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in order to avoid a Commons defeat after Shadow Homes Secretary Yvette Cooper forced a division once it emerged that a vote EU justice measures did not include the EAW.

    Russia adjusts to sanctions

    In an expectation that sanctions will last until 2017, writes the Telegraph (B4), the Bank of Russia has cut its growth forecast to zero next year and 0.1% in 2016. It also warned that capital flight would reach $128 billion (£81 billion) this year, much higher than previously claimed. In addition, the central bank fully floated the rouble yesterday in order to stabilise the currency on the foreign exchange market (FT, £, p7). The move came in an effort to deter investors from betting against the rouble after the Bank used $40 billion of foreign reserves since early October.

10th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Financial Stability Board unveils global rules to end ‘Too Big to Fail’

    The Financial Stability Board has revealed its plans to end ‘Too Big to Fail’. The BBA’s Adam Cull examines what the proposals mean for the 30 Global Significantly Important Banks (G-SIBs).

  • BBA Brief – 10 November 2014

    Carney hails end of “too big to fail”

    Ahead of the G20 meeting in Australia next weekend Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has hailed proposals on total loss absorbing capacity and bail-in as “a watershed in ending ‘too big to fail’ for banks.”  According to the Telegraph (B3), “These measures will shift the burden of a bank bailout away from taxpayers to investors who own the banks or lend them funds.  Under the new so-called “bail in” rules, globally systemic banks will have to hold “total loss absorbing capacity” [TLAC]– equity or debt that can be converted into shares – of at least 16-20pc of their assets, weighted for risk.  They will also have to hold an additional layer based on how important they are deemed to be to the financial system, and to avoid banks underplaying how risky their loans are, their TLAC must be at least double the global standard for the leverage ratio – a measure of capital that does not take into account risk. The current Basel minimum leverage ratio is 3pc.” (Also see Guardian, p23)

    US banks and regulators clash over cyber security

    US banks are gearing up for a fight with retailers over who should foot the bill for cyber security attacks.  An article on the front page of the FT (£) quotes Cam Fine, Head of the Independent Community Bankers of America, arguing that if a retailers systems are breached, “Shouldn’t they have to reimburse banks for all of the costs since it wasn’t the banks’ fault? That’s just common sense.”  In a letter to retailer and grocer groups the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the Credit Union National Association said that “The weak link in the system today is on the merchant end. As long as the security standards on the merchant side of the system are weaker than those on the financial institution side of the system, the vulnerability for consumers and financial institutions will be at your feet.”

    France attempts to get FTT agreement by the end of the year

    French Finance Minister Michel Sapin, who met with other EU finance ministers in Brussels on Friday has urged his colleagues to come to a deal on the Financial Transaction Tax by the end of the year.  He said countries should “advance, even if by only a step”, on the tax as the “worst danger would be failure” (EU business).

    Spotlight on branch closures

    The Mail on Sunday (p98) reported on how many banks are looking to reduce the number of bank branches in their network.  In the Sunday Times Becky Barrow said that she had not used a bank branch for more than a decade but still argues that “it would be a great shame if more communities lost the last bank in town” as many elderly people and businesses rely on them.

7th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Mobile payments offers exciting opportunities – but regulation poses questions

    Five billion of us have mobile phones – but just two billion have bank accounts. Pinsent Masons’ John Salmon looks at the opportunities and the regulatory environment

  • MEPs come together for the first time to discuss proposals for Banking Structural Reform

    European Parliamentary work kicked off this week on one of the major pieces of new legislation to be completed in this new mandate. The Liikanen report, the Barnier proposal or now simply BSR for Banking Structural Reform – to add a new acronym to the list – was discussed for the first time in the Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) on Tuesday.

  • BBA Brief – 7 November 2014

    CMA announces competition inquiry

    The CMA’s announcement of a new inquiry into the personal current account and SME banking markets is picked up widely in the papers.  The Times (£, p53) reports that the scope of the inquiry has been narrowed and the Mail (p19) speculates that the inquiry could lead to the end of free-in-credit banking.  The FT (£, p3) reports that the Labour Party sees the CMA’s action as the watchdog jumping “before it was pushed… It is understood that Mr Balls privately encouraged the CMA to get on with a banking review before the general election, avoiding what could be seen as a blow to its independence if Mr Miliband won in 2015.” In a separate article the FT (£, p3) quotes Conservative MP Mark Garnier saying: “Ultimately, the issue is opacity of charging on current accounts – no one really has any idea how much they’re being charged.”

    BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne was quoted in various papers stating that the banks would “co-operate fully” with the inquiry. “There are already substantial changes currently under way across the industry to strengthen competition, which improves choice and service for customers.”  Read his full comments here. In CityAM (p20) Treasury Minister Andrea Leadsom notes that there are “around 25 potential new banks in discussions with regulators”.  She says that “A key part of our long-term economic plan is to inject much more competition into the UK banking sector, and the CMA’s decision represents an important next step towards achieving this.”

    Alex Brummer writes in the Mail (p77) that the inquiry will allow the authorities to address the impact of mergers following the financial crisis. The Independent’s James Moore (p64) notes that the CMA has restricted options in attempting to foster more competition, writing that selling off branches will have a limited impact as they are “no longer anything like as important as they were”, whilst Nils Pratley writes in the Guardian (p42) that breaking up the banks “looks hellishly expensive”. Allister Heath echoes this point in the Telegraph (B2) stating that “last thing anybody needs is yet more useless, disruptive, top-down bank break-ups”. However, he adds that if the CMA “felt like being brave” it would address the issue of “free banking”.

    ECB prepares for full blown QE

    European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has instructed his staff to prepare “further measures” to combat low inflation in the single currency area which will be enacted “if needed”.  The Independent (p61) reports that it is expected that this will include the purchase of European sovereign bonds.  The paper quotes Jennifer McKeown of Capital Economics said saying that Draghi’s press conference “provided the firmest support yet for our long-held view that the Bank will implement full-blown quantitative easing… It is now a matter of when rather than if”.  Draghi also predicted that the markets could expect a €1 trillion injection of liquidity from the ECB.  The price of the euro dropped sharply in reaction to the news.

    Rumours of Labour leadership plotting grow

    The front page of the Times (£) says that two senior Shadow Cabinet members – Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper – have met to discuss a post-Miliband Labour Party amid rumours that they have signed a non-aggression pact.  The Independent splashes on news that Labour backbenchers are hoping to persuade 100 of their colleagues to sign up to a letter calling for a change in leadership which would force Ed Miliband out.

    Number of credit cards at highest levels for four years

    CityAM (p18) reports on BBA stats that show that the total number of credit cards has risen to its highest levels for four years.  It quotes BBA Chief Economist Richard Woolhouse saying, “When we feel more secure in our jobs and optimistic about the economic outlook, we are more likely to take on more credit. So it’s pleasing to see that the number of cards in issue is now higher than at any time for four years.  But there are also a lot of lenders offering zero per cent rates and interest-free periods at the moment. It’s very striking that as much as 42 per cent of all lending on credit cards does not incur an interest charge. Such deals will clearly make this type of borrowing much more attractive to customers.”  See the full release here.

6th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • How hard would it be to collect an FTT?

    After a year of analysis, EY has delivered a report to the European Commission on the collection aspects of the proposed Financial Transaction Tax. Providing this report has now completed our engagement and we have no on-going role with the Commission or Member States with regard to EUFTT.

  • Chief Executive’s newsletter – November 2014

    Welcome to my newsletter

    As the unseasonably warm autumn gives way to the nip of winter, the climate is also changing in Brussels. Last weekend the new European Commission took office for the first time. The UK’s Commissioner Lord Hill will be responsible for encouraging jobs and growth through the development of the Capital Markets Union, as well as making sure that the financial system is safe and resilient. Shortly before the new Commission took office, Banking Union marked its first milestone as the results of stress tests for 130 European banks, including four British banks, were published.

  • BBA Brief – 6 November 2014

    CMA announce full market investigation

    The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that the personal current account market and small business banking will face a full investigation. Alex Chisholm, the chief executive of the CMA said this morning that: “After carefully considering the consultation responses, most of which supported a market investigation, we remain of the view that there should be a full market investigation into the sector” (Telegraph). The CMA will appoint a panel of experts to lead the investigation. An article in today’s Guardian (p29) which anticipates the announcement includes comments by banks chiefs Ross McEwan and António Horta Osório, warning of the high cost of splitting up the banks.

    Reacting to this morning’s announcement by the CMA, BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said: “All the banks will co-operate fully with this investigation. There are already substantial changes currently underway across the banking industry to strengthen competition, which improves choice and service for customers. Banks are pro-competition – they compete for business every day. This summer we published a series of ideas to help new banks set up and smaller players to grow. We hope these suggestions will be taken up by regulators and politicians.”

    The BBA published a report on competition this summer entitled Promoting competition in the UK banking industry, set out four measures to level the playing field in banking.

    Confident consumers snap up credit cards

    Today the BBA released statistics showing that the number of credit cards on issue stands at 59.7 million – the highest number in four years. The figures also show that 42% of borrowing on cards is interest free and card borrowing is growing at a rate of 5.7% annually.

    Commenting on the statistics, Richard Woolhouse, the BBA’s Chief Economist, said: “These figures underline two significant trends – stronger consumer confidence and the increasing competiveness of many credit card deals on offer to customers. When we feel more secure in our jobs and optimistic about the economic outlook we are more likely to take on more credit. So it’s pleasing to see that the number of cards in issue is now higher than at any time for four years. But there are also a lot of lenders offering 0% rates and interest-free period at the moment. It’s very striking that as much as 42% of all lending on credit cards does not incur an interest charge. Such deals will clearly make this type of borrowing much more attractive to customers”. You can read the release here.

    Banks urged to disclose more information on fraud

    The Times (£, p7) reports that Donald Toon, director of the economic crime command at the National Crime Agency, yesterday told the Treasury Select Committee that he did not have a full picture of the levels of economic crime in the UK. His remarks prompted the Committee’s chairman, Andrew Tyrie, to question the reliability of the statistics available on financial fraud, saying: “It sounds as if we have a much bigger problem than is currently being admitted”.

    China to sell US dollar bonds

    The FT (£, p30) writes that the Bank of China has begun marketing Basel III compliant debt to global fund managers, making them the first mainland Chinese lender to sell dollar bonds to US investors. According to the article the bank hopes to make around $3 billion (£1.9 billion) from the sales. The ten year bonds will also meet requirements for European and Asian investors. The paper says that Chinese banks have been issuing debt “aggressively” this year to improve balance sheets ahead of new capital rules, raising a total of $27 billion (£16.9 billion) this year, compared to $4.7 billion (£2.9 billion) over the same period in 2013.

  • BBA response to CMA announcement on market investigation

    Reacting to this morning’s announcement by the Competition and Markets Authority, BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne said:

    “All the banks will co-operate fully with this investigation. There are already substantial changes currently underway across the banking industry to strengthen competition, which improves choice and service for customers.

    “Banks are pro-competition – they compete for business every day. This summer we published a series of ideas to help new banks set up and smaller players to grow. We hope these suggestions will be taken up by regulators and politicians.”

  • September 2014 – Credit Card Market

    Richard Woolhouse, the BBA’s Chief Economist, said: “These figures underline two significant trends – stronger consumer confidence and the increasing competiveness of many credit card deals on offer to customers.

    “When we feel more secure in our jobs and optimistic about the economic outlook we are more likely to take on more credit.  So it’s pleasing to see that the number of cards in issue is now higher than at any time for four years.

    “But there are also a lot of lenders offering 0% rates and interest-free period at the moment. It’s very striking that as much as 42% of all lending on credit cards does not incur an interest charge. Such deals will clearly make this type of borrowing much more attractive to customers.”

5th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Sturdy support for business

    The British Business Bank became fully operational on 1 November. The BBA’s Rob Watts welcomes this moment and explains how it could make a real difference to businesses.

  • BBA Brief – 5 November 2014

    CMA announcement on banking competition due tomorrow

    Sky News reports that the Competition and Markets Authority will announce tomorrow that it is going ahead with a formal probe into the supply of banking services to small and medium-sized companies and personal current accounts.

    Bailey warns of “overzealous” application of money laundering rules

    Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, yesterday warned that overzealous application of money laundering rules is hindering British banks abroad and cutting off poorer countries from global financial markets (City AM, p2). Giving evidence to the Lords Sub Committee on Economic and Financial Affairs, Mr Bailey called for more international cooperation on money laundering rules to stop banking services being withdrawn from emerging economies, and claimed there was a “serious international coordination problem” over rules defining money laundering (Guardian, p30). Mr Bailey also told peers that banks should decide how much their staff earn, not regulators (Telegraph).

    Tougher regulatory requirements and revenue declines cause investment banks to rethink

    According to the FT (£), executives working in investment banking are being forced to rethink, design and shrink their trading operations in the face of tougher regulatory requirements and revenue declines. The paper reports that investment banks have not only had to deal with stricter capital rules and higher compliance and IT costs, but they have also seen high-margin complex products make way for simpler less profitable instruments. The FT adds that as a result, most banks are continuing to cut jobs, and some have pulled out of certain assets and are outsourcing whole areas. It quotes Barclays’ RoE Challenges report, which found that return on equity for European lenders’ investment banking divisions has halved from 21-25 per cent pre-crisis to 10-12 per cent last year.

    Holiday pay ruling

    The FT (£, p1) says senior business leaders have attacked a legal ruling yesterday that gave millions of UK workers the right to receive extra holiday pay. CBI director general John Cridland told the paper that “goal posts are simply moving here” and warned of “mission creep.” The ruling limits the scope for historic payouts, meaning that companies will not face a huge wave of backdated claims, but could boost the wages of around five million workers before a general election where questions about who benefits from the economic recovery will be debated, the paper adds. The Guardian (p4) notes that the Government has announced it will set up a taskforce to try to limit the impact on employers of the ruling.

4th Nov 2014 Back to top
  • Digital solutions that benefit issuers and cardholders today

    Consumers have embraced online and mobile innovations to empower themselves and enrich their choices, whether they’re shopping for a car, looking for a dentist, or searching for a restaurant. When consumers are managing their money, they expect the same enhanced experience.

  • BBA Brief – 4 November 2014

    “Living wills” could mean higher cash reserves

    US and European banks may be forced to increase their cash reserves by tens of billions of dollars in order to have their “living wills” approved by regulators, according to FT sources (£, p15). In August, US regulators rejected the wills – which identify how a failing institution could be wound down – of 11 banks, and called for improvements ahead of the 2015 submissions. One reason for this failure was that the regulators told banks not to assume access to the Federal Reserve in a liquidity crunch. In a second article in the FT (£, p18), president of the Federal Reserve of Richmond Jeffrey Lacker told the paper: “It doesn’t seem to me to be healthy, for financial institutions to expect their problems will be solved through central bank credit.” Without this support, people familiar with the living wills process have said that “most banks think they would have to set aside billions of dollars in cash as a cushion”.

    ECB takes on role of supervisor

    As of today, the European Central Bank will assume responsibility for monitoring the health of the eurozone’s biggest banks through the Single Supervisory Mechanism. Bloomberg writes that the supervisory regime will “set about trying to blend 18 sets of national supervisory habits into pan-European consistency, and prod banks to take more precautions against crises”. Head of the Bank Danièle Nouy told the European Parliament’s ECON Committee on Monday that the Bank needs to keep a close watch on the shadow banking sector as “the more rigorous the regulatory system, the more attractive shadow banking looks” (Reuters).

    Virgin Money to revive flotation plans

    Sky News reports that Virgin Money is poised to set out a new timetable for its IPO this week. The lender delayed plans for a flotation in October due to stock market volatility, the threat of deflation and concerns about global economic growth. However, Sky News suggests the recovery in bank share prices since the PRA’s leverage ratio announcement last Friday has led Virgin bosses to mount a further attempt at listing. CityAM (p1) states that the challenger bank will focus on its current branch network and its online and broker-led sales. Read the BBA’s Way We Bank Now work here.

3rd Nov 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 3 November 2014

    BBA calls for changes to Senior Managers Regime proposals

    Sky News reported that the BBA and AFME have called for changes to the proposed new Senior Managers Regime as it could create a disproportionate burden for some smaller banks.  The submission also warns that new rules for non-executive directors could undermine their independence by making them too “hands on”.  Read the full joint response here.

    BBA Executive Director Simon Hills said: “It is right and proper that bankers with the most senior responsibilities should be held accountable for their actions. This is important both for the health of the banks but also in restoring public trust in the financial sector.  We believe that the proposals as drafted could undermine the independence of non-executive directors by making them too ‘hands on’ which could reduce their ability to provide critical advice to bank boards and propose that guidance on the role of the non-executive director would help avoid this.  It is also important that supervisors’ expectations of senior managers should reflect the business model of the bank – it would be disproportionate to apply the requirements in the same way to both the directors of a challenger bank and to the directors of a large internationally active bank.”

    Bank shares rise on Friday after leverage review

    The Bank of England announced its proposals for the UK leverage ratio on Friday. Its Financial Policy Committee announced that the biggest UK banks would have to hold capital of up to 4.05% of their assets from 2019 onwards, up from 3% now. That could be increased in boom times by an extra buffer of another 0.9%.  The Weekend FT (£, p3) quoted the BBA welcoming the announcement saying that it “balances safety with the need to keep lending affordable for businesses and individuals”.  Shares in a number of banks rose sharply following the Bank’s statement.

    Browne on changes in banking

    In an interview with the Scotsman, BBA Chief Executive Anthony Browne talks about how UK banks have changed since the crisis: “We don’t have these highly leveraged [debt-laden] businesses. They are a lot more boring than they were, and that is good because banks have a role to play in society. But we don’t want the stability of the graveyard where banks cannot do anything.”

    Business Bank backing alternative lenders

    The Sunday Times (£, p10) ran an interview with Business Secretary Vince Cable, about the British Business Bank and the alternative lenders it is looking to support.  He says:  “I used to be highly critical in general of the banks, of the culture, of the interest rate mis-selling, of the past.  There are some positive things happening. What’s inhibiting the banks is not bloody-mindedness, but the fact that they have risk ratios inherited as a result of the Basel regulation.”

31st Oct 2014 Back to top
  • BBA response to FPC leverage ratio review

    Responding to the Financial Policy Committee’s review of the leverage ratio, BBA Executive Director Simon Hills said:

    “The Bank’s proposals will provide the UK banking industry with a framework which balances safety with the need to keep lending affordable for businesses and individuals.

  • Are traders geared up for MiFID II?

    We are in the midst of a digital revolution and the financial industry is impacted as much as other industries. In the last ten years, innovation in the financial markets has gathered pace with superfast execution speed, auto pattern identification trading and automated market inefficiency robots. This innovation has brought challenges for regulators across the globe with concerns about flash crash, market manipulation and front running.

  • Proposed reforms to interchange fees unlikely to save consumers money

    The European Commission is considering plans to introduce a cap on multilateral interchange fees (MIFs), charges paid for card transactions between the merchant and the buyer’s bank.

    Under the plans, EU member states would be allowed to cap MIFs at 0.2% of the transaction value for debit cards, and 0.3% for credit card payments.

  • BBA Brief – 31 October 2014

    Announcement on leverage ratio

    Bank of England is expected to announce the results of its review of the leverage ratio today. The Telegraph (B1) reports that the Bank’s Financial Policy Committee could increase the safety net to 4% or 5% for “systematically important” banks – higher than the 3% proposed by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the international watchdog.  The Times (£, p53) said that these measures could result in banks and building societies granting fewer mortgages or increasing interest rates for homeowners. There is also speculation that these moves could encourage risky lending. This is because, unlike current bank buffers, leverage ratios are not adjusted for the safety of a bank’s loans. The Bank has admitted that building societies, which are more exposed to mortgages, could disproportionately suffer.

    Commenting on the impact of such an announcement, chief executive of Secure Trust Bank, Paul Lynam told the Times: “The reality of this change is that banks will either have to accept lower returns on equity, or the cost of financial products, such as mortgages, will have to rise. I think the latter is more likely than the former.”

    The Telegraph gives closer examination of what to expect from the Bank’s announcement here.

    Here the BBA’s Simon Hills examines the damage a UK leverage ratio could do to the sector.

    Growth of shadow banking

    CityAM (p1) reports figures from the Financial Stability Board (FSB) that show shadow banking grew by $5 trillion (£3.1 trillion) worldwide last year and took over from banks as the main source of lending. The shadow banking sector includes a wide range of institutions which offer bank-like services, including money market funds, finance companies and real estate investment funds. According to the article the figures could be even higher as they don’t take into account offshore hedgefunds. Over the same period the banking sector’s assets stayed flat. The FSB welcomed the boost to lending, but earlier in the month the International Monetary Fund warned that shadow banking could be a potential source of risk to the financial system. The FT (£, p22) says that the strongest growth from a large economy came from China, which is now home to the third biggest shadow banking sector after the US and the UK. The article suggests that the reason for such growth in shadow banking globally is because the banking sector is being shrunk by regulation.

    Yorkshire and Clydesdale could float

    The Times (£, p48) writes that the National Australia Bank (NAB) could be making its exit from the UK as it looks to float subsidiaries Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank. In the wake of PPI and IRHP losses, NAB has worked to build a UK banking business but says that it is considering “a range of options” for the UK division. Bank chief executive Andrew Thornburn told Reuters: “We have an intention to exit the UK”, saying that the bank’s focus would be New Zealand. The FT reports that the NAB has already begun offloading non-core business, including the partial sale of a £625 million non-performing commercial property loan book in the UK.

30th Oct 2014 Back to top
  • Supporting philanthropy

    Private banks and wealth managers have a well-earned reputation for helping their customers manage their finances and plan for the future. One of their less well-known skills is advising their clients on how to give their money away.

  • BBA Brief – 30 October 2014

    The Fed announces the end of QE

    All the main papers reports that on Wednesday the Federal Reserve voted 9-1 to stop itslong running bond-purchase program at the end of October. As the FT reports (£, p1) in a marked change of language the Fed highlighted an improvement in the US labour market, dropping its previous view that there was significant “underutilisation” of labour resources. The Fed kept its forecast of low rates for a “considerable time” but made clear that the clock starts ticking now for a future rate rise. (Times, £, p48), (WSJ, £, p1) (Guardian, p26)

    Lord Hill says that the EU should not introduce a unilateral financial transaction tax  

    Lord Hill, Britain’s next European Commissioner has said a financial transaction tax should only be introduced at a global level, if at all.  He added that this is not a view shared by many in the EU. Read the joint BBA, CBI and EEF letter on the proposed financial transaction tax here.  (Telegraph, £, B1)

    September mortgage approvals fall

    The Bank of England Bankstats published yesterday reveal that UK mortgage approvals dropped to 61,267 in September, a 14 month low, adding to evidence that the housing market is cooling. The Bank of England data also showed the average interest rate on outstanding mortgages was 2 basis points down, to 3.2pc in September (Telegraph, £, B5). Commenting in the Daily Mail (p79) Richard Woolhouse, chief economist at the BBA, said: “We are now experiencing a steadier housing market, which is no bad thing given previous concern about the pace of property price rises.”

29th Oct 2014 Back to top
  • A banking (r)evolution

    With all of the attention that bank branch closures have been getting in the media lately, it is important that we remind ourselves of the question that really must be answered – is there an acceptable level of access to banking in the UK that ensures no one is financially excluded?

  • BBA response to today’s Bank of England Bankstats

    Commenting on the latest Bank of England monthly Bankstats, BBA Chief Economist Richard Woolhouse said:

    “The drop in mortgage approvals suggests that we are now experiencing a steadier housing market, which is no bad thing given previous concern about the pace of property price rises.

  • BBA Brief – 29 October 2014

    Cable steps in on branch closures

    Following Lloyds Banking Group’s announcement yesterday that it was to close 150 branches, Business Secretary Vince Cable said that he would write to the large retail banks asking them  to recommit to their “last branch in town” pledge. Mr Cable said: “As banks continue to modernise we must ensure that people in rural and smaller communities in particular continue to have access to the banking services they need” (Times, £, p39). The Business Secretary also called for the banking industry and the Post Office to work together to “ensure a long-term solution to financial access can be found using existing networks”, reports the Guardian (p21).

    BBA Executive Director Eric Leenders appeared on the BBC 6 O’Clock (03.14), News at Ten and ITV News to discuss how “the technological revolution that is changing all of our lives” is impacting the way we bank. The BBC and ITV both used BBA figures that showed the growth in online and mobile banking.  The FT (£, p1) also cites BBA figures which show that UK bank customers make almost £1 billion worth of mobile and internet transactions per day, whilst footfall in branches has fallen by 10% per year.

    Banks to help those with mortgage shortfalls

    The Telegraph (p1) reports that several major banks will write to elderly home owners to warn them if they face a shortfall once their mortgage ends. A number of lenders are in discussions to offer “lifetime mortgages”, where customers can continue to repay just the interest until their death. Ros Altmann, the Government’s adviser on older people said that “lenders are trying to keep people in their homes, rather than repossess them”. The paper states that there are around 130,000 interest-only mortgages due to expire each year up to 2020, with about half facing an average shortfall of £71,000.

    Rates may stay lower for longer, warns Deputy Govenor

    Sir Jon Cunliffe has signalled that interest rates may stay low for the foreseeable future, writes the Times (£, p41). Speaking at the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism, the Deputy Governor for Financial Stability said that weak pay growth and a stuttering global economy has caused him to rethink how long rates should stay at record low levels. Sir Jon added that understanding how employment has risen without causing inflationary pressures is “now key to deciding policy”. The Telegraph (B4) notes his suggestion that there has been little real wage resistance as workers believe that “pre-crisis pay levels are no longer achievable”.

  • Branch banking by numbers

    Our banking behaviour continues to evolve, and with it, the range of different channels available to us for banking. Whether through bank branches, ATMs, the post office, online or mobile – our choice of banking channels is now greater than ever.

28th Oct 2014 Back to top
  • The rights of the majority versus the transgressions of the minority

    In all walks of life it seems that we are confronted by a tension between the need to have effective tools to tackle the problems presented by a minority of people that do not respect the law, with the rights and freedoms of the vast majority of law-abiding citizens.

    Tax is just one such area where the problem of tax evasion and the desire to stamp it out has raised the possibility of encroachment on the rights and protections developed over centuries to safeguard the majority of citizens from abuses or arbitrary actions by government.

  • BBA Brief – 28 October 2014

    Fair and Effective Markets Review consultation published

    The Bank of England published the consultation document for the Fair and Effective Markets Review last night. The consultation asks whether there is a need to strengthen criminal sanctions in fixed interest, currency and commodity markets, as well as to introduce punishments such as temporarily suspending companies’ or individuals’ permissions to trade in certain markets (FT, £, p1).

    The paper quotes Minouche Shafik, Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking, as saying: “The first act of the review was to identify seven additional benchmarks which need to come into the regulatory perimeters. So we will look at regulatory options if we have to. But a big part of the problem really can be solved through market-led and firm-led solutions and we are keen to work with the industry to find these.” The Telegraph (B1) quotes Chancellor George Osborne as saying that he wanted the work to preserve “the UK’s position as the global financial centre for many of these markets.”

    Responding, BBA Policy Director Andrew Rogan said: “This review will be crucial in helping to raise standards and improve trading practices. Trust is essential to markets which is why the industry has worked hard with the authorities to put in place reforms in recent years. Any further moves that help improve confidence in London as a place to do business will be welcomed. Our ambition is for markets in London to be famous for fair dealing and integrity and our members will work with the review to try to achieve that.”

    Lloyds unveils three-year strategy

    Lloyds Bank has announced its new three-year strategy in a plan that will see many of its operations automated. The Telegraph says the bank is targeting a £1 billion-a-year saving by the end of 2017, and will also put £1 billion into digital technology. The three-year plan will see an extra £30bn of lending put into the economy. Lloyds Bank Chief Executive António Horta-Osório said: “This is a highly competitive market and customers’ behaviour are changing. Increasingly our customers want to access our services in many different ways, via branches, via digital or via mobile.” Mr Horta-Osório said regrettably this would require 9,000 job cuts as the business was “digitised.”

    BBA’s Executive Director Eric Leenders was interviewed on Sky News and the BBA’s “The Way We Bank Now” report was referenced by BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and BBC News online.

    Start-ups seek banking licences

    The FT (£, p4) reports that Nazzim Ishaque’s Lintel Bank is among a number of start-ups seeking a banking licence from the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Mr Ishaque, a former IT expert, plans to use online, phone services, a few branches and “cutting edge technology” to offer current accounts, mortgages and loans for small and medium-sized businesses.  The paper adds that regulators have eased requirements for new banks, and five new banks were authorised by the PRA in the year following rule changes introduced in March 2013.

    Click here for the BBA’s report “Promoting Competition in the UK Banking Industry.”

    Price of CoCos expected to rise following stress tests

    The Wall Street Journal (p23) says contingent capital bonds, or CoCos, were one of the winners of Sunday’s ECB stress tests, as the price of the bond rose yesterday as analysts predict the stress test result could spark a revival in issuance.  Jeremy Smouha, from asset manager GAM said: “The increased transparency and comparability of banks’ balance sheets across Europe is definitely a positive sign longer-term,” said. With banks overall becoming safer, their junior debt [including CoCos] will also become safer”.

    Prime Minister toughens stance on Brussels bill

    David Cameron is bracing himself for a “bruising showdown” with Brussels after hardening his stance in a budget row with the EU, the Guardian writes (p9). Making a statement to the House of Commons yesterday, Mr Cameron said: “Britain will not be paying an extra €2 billion (£1.7 billion) to anyone on 1 December, and we reject this scale of payment. We will be challenging this in every way possible”.

  • BBA response to the Fair and Effective Markets Review consultation

    Responding to the publication of the Bank of England’s Fair and Effective Markets Review consultation document, BBA Policy Director Andrew Rogan said:

    “This review will be crucial in helping to raise standards and improve trading practices.

27th Oct 2014 Back to top
  • BBA Brief – 27 October 2014

    UK banks pass ECB stress tests

    Shares in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena have been suspended this morning following the announcement of the results of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) Asset Quality Review (AQR) yesterday.  It found that European banks need to adjust the value of their assets by €48 billion (£38 billion).  The ECB will now require the 130 lenders who took part in the exercise to adjust the value of their assets in their accounts or prudential requirements.

    The FT  (£, p1) reports that nine Italian banks were among the 25 euro area banks – including three in Greece, three in Cyprus and two in Belgium – that failed the ECB health check. Of the 25 lenders that failed, the ECB said 13 still needed to address capital shortfalls even after taking account of actions they had taken since December 2013 – which was the cut-off point for the initial capital test. Four of these were Italian.

    Harry Wilson welcomes the results in the Times (£, p47),  “every British bank that took part passed and only Lloyds looked close to being troubled by the doomsday scenario employed to measure a lender’s ability to survive. In the case of Lloyds, a severe fall in the value of its mortgage-lending book resulting in the bank hitting a 6.2 per cent core capital level — which is still above the 5.5 per cent minimum — would require a property crash worse than anything even in the early 1990s, when home prices in Britain collapsed.”  In the Telegraph (B2), James Quinn notes that the Bank of England’s own stress tests, expected later this year, are “likely to be much tougher.”

    Labour and banks discuss “help to build”

    Labour has held a meeting with high street banks to work out ways to increase lending to small housebuilders if elected next year, according to the Independent on Sunday (p7).  The paper reports that Labour wants a “help to build” scheme if it wins the general election next year, a policy that would involve government underwriting bank loans to small house-builders with a turnover of up to around £20 million a year.

    Banks invest in cyber security start-ups
    The FT (£, p27) reports that banks are taking stakes in cyber security start-ups in the hope that they could play a key role in the fight against hackers.  According to data from CB Insights, corporate venture arms have more than doubled their investment in cyber security in the past two years.

24th Oct 2014 Back to top
  • Looking ahead to the European stress tests

    Ahead of the European Central Bank’s announcements of its stress tests of banks from across Europe, BBA Executive Director Simon Hills writes about what we can expect.