The BBA is now integrated into UK Finance. Please go to www.ukfinance.org.uk for new content and updates from UK Finance.
Material published by BBA prior to 1st July 2017 is still available on this website.
From 1 July 2017, the finance and banking industry operating in the UK will be represented by a new trade association, UK Finance. It will represent around 300 firms in the UK providing credit, banking, markets and payment-related services. The new organisation will take on most of the activities previously carried out by the Asset Based Finance Association, the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Financial Fraud Action UK, Payments UK and the UK Cards Association.x
BBA brief is a round up of each morning’s banking policy news prepared by the BBA’s media team. It is a selection of the articles in the papers and broadcast stories. The content does not reflect the views of the BBA.
Regulator to begin work on capital rule early
The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision will start work on the calibration of the leverage ratio next year, sooner than expected, writes the FT (£, p22). The regulator’s secretary-general William Coen said: “We are publically committed to finalising it by 2017. I think there is an appetite on the committee to start that work sooner rather than later.” The paper suggests that the finished rule could be unveiled as early as 2015, but would not be formally enforced on a global level until 2018.
BoE payments system disrupted
The Bank of England’s CHAPS (Clearing House Automated Payment System) – which underpins large transfers between bank accounts – was down for more than nine hours yesterday following maintenance work over the weekend. The system, which last year processed £277 billion of transactions per day (FT, £, p1), had its opening hours extended to 8pm in order to complete delayed payments. The Times (£, p11) reports on the impact on house purchases, stating that “thousands of buyers were unable to get into their homes until today because of the disruption to their chains.”
Treasury Select Committee Chair Andrew Tyrie MP said: “The whole economy depends on a reliable payments system. We need to have confidence that the cause has been found and addressed” (Guardian, p3). Bank of England Deputy Governor Nemat Shafik will lead a review into the cause of the breakdown and the effectiveness of the Bank’s response.
Cunliffe warns on bankers’ pay
Sir Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor for Financial Stability at the Bank of England, said yesterday that bankers’ wages have failed to reflect a decrease in returns for shareholders since the financial crash, writes the FT (£, p2). He told a Chatham House conference that returns on equity seen before 2007 are unlikely to return, and that “in the new world, pay bills may well have further to adjust”. Sir Jon noted that since the crisis “employees have received a larger share of a smaller pie relative to shareholders” (Guardian, p19). He also stated that banks’ business models will change due to “lower levels of leverage, higher liquidity and the removal of the implicit taxpayer subsidy” (Times, £, p41).Read more
Need for greater cooperation to fight cyber crime
The rising threat of cyber crime for banks is featured in a spread in the Sunday Telegraph (B6). It notes that banks have to fend off such threats every day and that increasingly they are being targeted by organised criminals and foreign intelligence services who want to disrupt financial systems. “It’s considered retaliation, many of these attacks are at such a level that they can only be done by nation states,” says Dr Alastair MacWillson, a cyber-security expert. The article cites a recent BBA report which calls for greater cooperation to fight the threat. Find out more about the BBA’s Financial Crime Alert Service.
Large regulatory fines continue to change bank behaviour
The FT (£, p17) looks at how many big banks are “retreating” and scaling down their global reach. It quotes Noor Menai, chief executive of CTBC Bank USA, warning that the rise of global fines means that many banks are simply exiting from more risky markets. “Given the almost biblical vengeance the regulators can extract from you – you have a risk heat map – it almost makes no sense to stay in those countries,” he said. The article notes that in their place large regional banks such as Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank are expanding.
In Saturday’s Telegraph (p18) Richard Dyson looked at how members of the House of Lords have complained that anti-money laundering regulations are making it more difficult for them to get banking services due to them being classified as politically exposed persons. He accuses banks of over-zealous application of the rules, but notes that huge fines from regulators are in part responsible for driving this behaviour.
EBA threatens legal action over bank allowances
The Sunday Telegraph (B1) and the Mail on Sunday (p89) both reported on the ongoing row between UK regulators and the EU over bank bonuses. European Banking Authority Executive Director Adam Farkas told the MoS that his organisation would be prepared to take legal action if its new guidance on allowances is ignored. He warned: “If there is a breach of law then we have the legal power to initiate a breach of law action.” Simon Watkins argued “if genuinely tied to performance and subject to deferral and clawback, actually put the banker’s own money at risk. It means they can be held to account and, if found to have failed, to be hurt where it matters to them most… in the wallet.” (Mail on Sunday, p88). Ruth Sunderland described the EBA’s approach as “increasingly ham-fisted” in her column in Saturday’s Mail (p95).
Lynam: more change needed for challenger banks
In an interview with the Telegraph (B5), Paul Lynam, Chief Executive of Secure Trust, sets out three changes that smaller banks need to be able to grow. He says that the Government must deal with three barriers: access to the payment systems, the higher levels of capital smaller banks must put against their loans, and the cheaper cost of borrowing that larger banks enjoy as a result of implicit government support. The paper describes Secure Trust as “one to watch”.
Download the BBA’s Competition in Banking report.Read more
BBA Annual Banking Conference
Speakers at the BBA’s Annual Banking Conference yesterday have featured heavily in today’s news. Ross McEwan’s remarks that a rise in interest rates could threaten banks’ relationships with customers appear in the Telegraph (p5). The paper reports the RBS chief executive as saying his bank would sponsor a major piece of research on how customers would deal with higher interest rates. Speaking about customers’ concern over an upcoming hike in interest rates, the Guardian (p37) quotes Mr McEwan as saying: “This anxiety comes despite the fact that, like most banks, RBS and NatWest have stress-tested our customers’ affordability in the event of a significant rise in interest rates up to 7%.”
Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom outlined plans for measures to support new entrants to the banking market (FT, £, p2). The minister said that there were currently as many as 25 new banks in conversation with the regulator. Ms Leadsom’s supportive measures include new legislation to require credit data sharing to allow challenger banks to conduct risk assessments of SME borrowers, and an agreement from the larger retail banks to publish borrowing figures by postcode to allow new banks to see “where action can be taken.”
You can read the BBA’s response to the HMT consultation ‘Competition in banking: improving access to SME credit data’ here and the BBA’s postcode lending figures here. You can also read our report on Promoting Competition in UK Banking here.
FCA Chairman John Griffith-Jones used his speech to raise concerns about the lack of new banking products being launched due to the adverse threat of regulation (Times, £, p49). Using the example of changes to pension rules next April, Mr Griffith-Jones cited the lack of new products coming onto the market for those who are no longer obliged to purchase an annuity. A lot of banks and insurers are unwilling to “dare” to bring out something new, he told the BBA conference. Mr Griffith-Jones reassured the industry, however, that the FCA had reached a “tipping point” whereby its focus of preventing markets working badly had now shifted to how to make them work well. Bill Michael of KPMG, another speaker at the conference, warned that the financial services sector could become paralysed because of the “suffocating level of regulation” but Lord Birt, former Chairman of the BBC and PayPal Europe, defended tougher regulation and compliance.
Also at the BBA conference:
EU bonus cap wrong
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority, has said that EU plans for a bonus cap are “the wrong policy” and could lead to unintended consequences (Telegraph, p5). Mr Bailey threw his weight behind George Osborne’s opposition to the plans, telling senior bankers at the Mansion House: “Let me be blunt, the bonus cap is the wrong policy. The debate around it is misguided and the best thing I can say about allowances is that they are a response to a bad policy”. His remarks follow moves by the European Banking Authority to clampdown on banks using role-based allowances in place of bonuses.
Read the BBA’s response to the European Banking Authorities report on discretionary remuneration practices here.
Fears over eurozone disrupt bond market
The front page of the Telegraph reports that deepening deflation across southern Europe has caused turbulence in the European bond market, with yields on 10 year German Bunds plummeting to an all-time low of 0.72%. Andrew Roberts, credit chief at RBS, told the paper: ”This is not going to stop until the European Central Bank steps up to the plate. If it does not act in the next few days, this could snowball”. According to the report French, Italian, Spanish, Irish and Portuguese yields diverged sharply from German yields in early trading spiking suddenly “in a sign that investors are again questioning the solidity of the monetary union”. At the same time Greek yields have soared over 300 basis point to 8.73% over the last month.Read more
Bankers gather for BBA Annual Conference
Senior bankers are gathering today for the BBA Annual Conference to discuss how to build an industry that fuels economic growth, lends to businesses and helps customers. Keynote speakers include Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrea Leadsom and Shadow Financial Secretary Cathy Jamieson. In today’s CityAM (p21) BBA CEO Anthony Browne outlines the themes of the conference, arguing that “whilst we must learn from the past, it must not shape our future. Lingering on those mistakes could limit our ambitions”. Anthony also appeared on this morning’s BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, where he emphasised the need to make sure the UK remains a global financial centre. To find out more about the BBA’s conference click here.
EBA calls curb on bankers’ use of allowances
The European Banking Authority (EBA) has written to the European Commission and national regulators claiming that a number of major banks are using pay allowances for their senior staff that breach EU rules on bonuses (FT, £, p2). The EBA’s opinion, which is not legally binding, acknowledged that “allowances are discretionary” but insisted “firms should behave in such a way to remain in line with the [bonus payment] legislation”. The Telegraph(B1) reports comments by chairman of the Treasury Select Committee Andrew Tyrie who said the move was “a fundamentally flawed approach”. Responding to the announcement a BBA spokesman said: “Any move which increases fixed costs and reduces the ability to use these tools… seems counterproductive”.
Customer switching growing at 22% higher than last year
The latest current account switching data, released by the Payments Council, reveals that more than 1.2 million customers have changed bank since the launch of the free-to-use service in September 2013. It also shows that customer switching is 22% higher than this time last year (Guardian, p36). The Payments Council noted that the switching data is limited to those who use the service to move account and “may not represent a complete picture of the current accounts acquired or lost by the banks.”
Markets hit by “flash crash” but UK employment still rising
The FT (£, p1) leads with the news that bond markets in the US and UK experienced a “flash crash” yesterday as investors reacted to concerns about Eurozone deflation and weakening global growth prospects. Falling Brent oil prices and a marked drop in US Treasury yields, from 2.18% to 1.95%, caused the FTSE Eurofirst 300 to drop by 3.2%, its biggest fall since 2011. CityAM (p1) reports that £46 billion was taken off the value of the UK’s blue chip equity market. The US S&P 500 also fell by 10%, removing the gains experienced in 2014.
Elsewhere, the FT (£, p2) reports that UK employment levels continued to grow with unemployment at a six-year low. Vacancies also rose over the summer. Despite the trend, the Bank of England has not indicated that it will end quantitative easing or seek to normalise interest rates.Read more
Financial fraud in the public eye
Money Mail (p39) features a “fight the fraudsters special” which describes online fraud as the “21st century’s biggest crimewave”. The nine page spread gives examples of vishing, phishing and fake investment calls – all of which are included in the BBA’s Know Fraud, No Fraud campaign. BBA CEO Anthony Browne penned an article for Which? about the campaign – which aims to raise awareness amongst consumers of different types of fraud – highlighting eight things banks would never say or do, but a fraudster might. Meanwhile, the Courier and Advertiser (p18) cites the BBA’s campaign in an article on an Experian report which reveals that the rate of detected and prevented fraud across financial services products has increased year-on-year since 2013.
ECOFIN agrees data sharing laws
EU finance ministers yesterday agreed legislation that would require all 28 member states to disclose assets held by foreign EU nationals in their financial institutions. Under the law, participating countries would be required to automatically send data back to tax authorities in a European depositor’s home country, a requirement regarded as “one of the most powerful ways to prevent tax evasion”, writes the FT (£, p7). Le Monde reports on the current information sharing arrangements in Switzerland, Singapore, Austria and Luxembourg.
Commenting on ECOFIN’s agreement, a BBA spokesman said: “We welcome government efforts to clamp down on global tax evasion and our member banks have been working hard to support the development of a global standard for financial account information exchange, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), to assist these efforts globally… However, we are disappointed that Europe’s finance ministers have not simply incorporated the CRS into the Directive on Administrative Cooperation (DAC), but have introduced the potential for a higher European standard within the DAC. This undermines the global CRS, even before its effectiveness has been evaluated.” The full press release can be read here.
Inflation falls to five-year low
The Consumer Price Index dropped to 1.2% yesterday – the lowest since 2009 – which “cemented investor expectations” that an interest rate rise will not come until after the general election next May, writes the FT (£, p2). The Telegraph (B1) notes that analysts predicted a fall of just 0.1 percentage point, and that markets only expect to see interest rates at 1% by December 2015. However, the FT argues that it is unlikely to change the views of the two MPC members who have called for an immediate rate rise. The Times (£, p41) observes that it is now unclear whether Britain or the US will be the first to tighten monetary policy.Read more
BBA launches Know Fraud, No Fraud campaign
Yesterday the BBA launched a new campaign to help members of the public identify when they’re being scammed. Chief Executive Anthony Browne announced the campaign on the BBC Radio 4 programme You & Yours where he listed the 8 things your bank would never ask you (but a fraudster might). The campaign was picked up by BBC News who cite the BBA’s YouGov polling revealing that millions of people are inadvertently leaving themselves open to being scammed. This Is Money reported that the banks and the BBA have produced a new leaflet with real life examples of some of the most prevalent scams, to go into branches and police stations across the country. Anthony was also interviewed on the Radio 2 Simon Mayo programme and the BBA’s Head of Campaigns, Fiona McEvoy appeared on a range of local radio stations including BB WM and BBC Cumbria.
You can read the new leaflet and find out more about the campaign here: www.knowfraud.co.uk.
FSB outlines new shadow banking repo rules
The FT (£) splashes on the news that the Financial Stability Board (FSB) has published a framework imposing new minimum requirements on the shadow banking sector when it makes short-term loans secured by stocks or bonds from banks. The FSB now wants a minimum 1.5 per cent “haircut” for corporate bonds with a maturity of between one and five years, up from 1 per cent before, and a 6 per cent haircut for equities, instead of 4 per cent previously. The latter would mean that a borrower would have to post $106 of equity collateral for a $100 loan. Daniel Tarullo, chairman of the FSB Standing Committee on Supervisory and Regulatory Co-operation, said: “Securities financing transactions such as repos are important funding tools for a wide range of market participants, including non-bank financial firms. The implementation of the numerical haircut floors on securities financing transactions will reduce the build-up of excessive leverage and liquidity risk by non-banks during peaks in the credit and economic cycle.” In the Lombard (£, p23) column, Jonathan Guthrie describes the move as “gently tilting a skewed regulatory framework a few inches back in favour of conventional banks”. Robert Peston also blogs (BBC Online) on the new rules questioning whether in the long term it is healthy to discriminate in favour of government debt.
Online wealth managers increase competition in the private banking market
The FT (£, p25) looks at the rise in online wealth managers and their challenge to the more traditional private banking industry. It reports, “Rising demand for online and mobile services and the increasing expense of gaining financial advice have created an opportunity for these start-ups.” It quotes BBA statistics that show that nearly 40m mobile and internet banking transactions were made each week in 2013 and banking mobile applications were used 18.6m times a week – more than double the number in 2012. The article quotes Joe Norburn, head of digital at Coutts who said: “We haven’t seen a material impact just yet; but we can’t rest on our laurels and assume that will be case going forward.” Coutts is planning to unveil digital tools next year to help customers plan their wealth goals and portfolios.
Read the BBA’s recent report on what the private banking industry brings to the UK – “A wealth of opportunities”.
Commentators react to Carney’s “reckless” banking speech
A number of commentators follow up on Mark Carney’s remarks that the new criminal sanctions for “reckless” bankers would end the injustice of bank executives not being punished after the financial crisis. Alastair Osborne warns in the Times (£, p39) that “the risk is that the endless regulation keeps the talent out.” In the Guardian (p29) Nils Pratley argues, “if reform means that a chief executive can lose part of his pension if he is responsible for stuffing punters with crass products such as payment protection insurance, so be it. Most people would regard that as a reasonable way to encourage better banking.” In the Mail (p67) Alex Brummer writes that, “Carney deserves praise for arguing that if senior bankers are unhappy with regulatory change then they should resign. “Read more
Concerns that Bank could hike new leverage ratio
The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee will meet this week to discuss where to set the new leverage ratio with an announcement due later this month. The FT (£, p3) reports that some are speculating that it could be set as high as 4-5%. The top five UK banks would have to raise £46bn by the end of this year to reach a 5 per cent leverage ratio, falling to zero over three years, according to Morgan Stanley analysts. The article references the BBA’s submission to the Bank of England which warns of “unintended consequences” of a high leverage ratio which could incentivise banks to prioritise riskier lending. “The potential risks and uncertainty for the housing market in particular should not be underestimated,” said Robin Fieth, the chief executive of the Building Societies Association.
Farage offers to do a deal with Conservatives in return for 2015 EU referendum
Nigel Farage told the BBC’s Sunday Politics that he would consider entering a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement with the Conservatives after the next election in return for “a full, free and fair referendum on our continued membership of the European Union. I’m not prepared to wait for three years. I want to have a referendum on this great question next year… Sometime in July next year strikes me as a very good time to do this.”
In the Mail on Sunday a Survation poll put UKIP on 25% of the vote with Labour and Conservatives on 31%. If replicated in a General Election this could see the party win over 100 seats. In the same paper, James Forsyth, reported that Cabinet Ministers are warning that if the party loses the upcoming by-election in Rochester that there could be a leadership challenge to David Cameron. Amid rumours of more defections to come, according to calculations by the academic Matthew Goodwin for the FT (£, p2), four Conservative constituencies – Amber Valley, Cleethorpes, Bury North and Dudley South – face a Ukip threat so strong that defection could be the sitting MPs best strategy for survival.
Twitter introduces tweet payments in France
According to the FT (£, p19) Twitter has teamed up with French banking group BPCE to allow its users to tweet money to each other. S-money, a division of the second-largest French banking group by customers, Groupe BPCE, has teamed up with Twitter to offer the service which will be available to anyone with a bank account and a Twitter handle in France.
Carney tells bankers to embrace new rules or quit
The Telegraph (B1) reports that Bank of England Governor Mark Carney defended new rules to make senior bankers more personally responsible for behaviour in their banks. He told the IMF annual meeting, “If you’re chair of an audit committee, you have responsibility for the activities of an institution. And if you don’t think you can discharge that responsibility, you shouldn’t be on that board.”Read more
Bowe named as chair of new banking standards board
Dame Colette Bowe has been named as the first full-time chair of the Banking Standards Review Council (BSRC). She told the FT (£, p2) that the task is “the most worthwhile thing I can think to do”. The former chairman of Ofcom will assume the role on November 1, taking over from the former CBI Director General Sir Richard Lambert, who served as acting chair. The BSRC has been set up to improve professional standards across the industry and improve the culture of banks.
The BBC cites Anthony Browne, the Chief Executive of the BBA, saying: “Dame Colette’s appointment by a committee headed by Mark Carney demonstrates the importance of the new Banking Standards Review Council. The industry stands ready to assist her to help it bring about the improvements in standards we all want to see.”
Osborne warn on Eurozone growth
George Osborne yesterday warned that the UK economy is at a “critical” juncture due to increasing concerns that the European Union is close to sliding into a triple-dip recession, the Daily Mail (p2) reports. The Chancellor’s warning comes amid a gloomy outlook from the IMF, which said that the EU was facing a period of deflation and slow economic growth similar to that seen by Japan in its “lost decade”. Read the BBA’s plan to boost economic growth in the Eurozone here.
Home loan lending cools after new regulation
Mortgage lending to first time buyers has fallen for the first time since January, according to Council of Mortgage Lenders figures reported in the Times (£, p44). The number of loans to all home movers weakened for the first time in five months, sliding by 3% to 36,500. The paper said that experts attribute the decline to new rules from the Financial Conduct Authority that aim to limit risky lending and those from the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee which hope to limit high loan-to-income deals.Read more
Investors criticise change in derivatives aimed at curbing damage from bank failure
The INYT (£, p18) and the FT (£, p21) report that this weekend it is expected that 18 of the biggest international banks and regulators will agree on a change to derivatives that is intended to contain the damage caused by a future collapse of a large bank. However the new rules have led to a warning from institutional investors and pension funds. Investors have warned that they may resist new protocols to rewrite derivatives contracts as they may clash with their clients’ interests. Tracy Alloway and Tom Braithwaite (FT,£,p21) look at the issue in more detail noting that critics have said the industry-led rewrite is a “piecemeal solution that could end up exacerbating a future run on banks”.
Eurozone growth concerns
A number of the papers cover the IMF’s “Global Financial Stability Report” published yesterday which notes that many banks in the Eurozone lacked the “financial muscle” to boost regional growth. José Viñals, the IMF’s Financial Counsellor said that although trading banks were safer, thanks to capital requirements many banks “do not have the financial muscle to provide enough credit vigorously to support the recovery”. (Times, £, p44) The Guardian also reports Viñals’ concerns that more risks are shifting into the shadow banking system in the form of rising market and liquidity risks and that “if left unaddressed, these risks could compromise global financial stability”(Guardian, p27). The Times also reports that yesterday President Hollande appealed to EU leaders to ease austerity rules underpinning the Eurozone because excessive focus on deficit cutting was stifling economic growth (Times, £, p38)
EU Tax sharing agreement could be agreed next week
Reuters reports that agreement could be reached at next week’s Ecofin meeting on cross border exchange of tax information. The European Commission wants all 28 EU member states to strengthen rules on how income on savings in bank accounts is taxed, including an automatic exchange of information about which account holders receive what interest payments.
Lord Hill confirmed by MEPs
The UK’s Lord Hill has been confirmed as the EU Commissioner for financial services by members of the ECON Committee, with a margin of 45 to 13, writes CityAM (p2). Former French finance minister Pierre Moscovici was approved by 44 votes to 12 as Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. While both portfolios remain unchanged European Voice notes that with the rejection of the Slovenian Commissioner-designate Juncker may be forced to reshuffle his College portfolios. MEPs will vote to approve or refuse the College of Commissioners on 22 October.Read more
Banks write new rules on derivatives
Eighteen bank “dealers” have agreed new plans which will prevent counterparties terminating derivatives contracts in the event of a bank failure, according to the FT (£). The discussions – which were led by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association – will make it easier to resolve a future failing institution and will come into force on 1 January 2015. One source close to the negotiations told the paper that it was an important step in ending “too big to fail” as “you have the financial sector absorb the losses but you have the company stay in business”.
New rules will make it easier to clawback incorrect payments
A number of banks have introduced rules which will allow them to clawback cash which has been paid into an account unintentionally, reports the Mail (p38). Lenders will notify a customer who has received an accidental payment, and if they do not respond then the money will be automatically returned to the sender or ring-fenced so it can’t be spent. The article cites BBA research which shows that the use of mobile banking apps doubled to 18.6 million per week last year, and that by 2017 60% of all transactions will be done on apps or over the internet.
Lord Hill set to win confirmation
Following his second hearing in front of the ECON Committee yesterday, Lord Hill is expected to secure his nomination as the EU’s financial services commissioner, writes the FT (£, p8). After a more “assured” performance with an improved technical knowledge, senior MEPs said that he was “on the brink of being approved”. The Times (£, p2) reports that MEPs voiced concerns over his previous job as a financial lobbyist, but that he was “applauded for voicing strong pro-EU beliefs”.
The Telegraph (B1) suggests that the Tory peer could lose powers over banking regulation due to anger over the “double majority” voting system – which requires both Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries to support financial legislation – secured by the UK last year. Green MEP Philippe Lamberts said: “He is too close to David Cameron and can’t do this job. There needs to be a reshuffle of responsibilities.” However, the FT quotes senior liberal MEP Sylvie Goulard who said: “We think it is unfair just to reject him because of his passport.”
MEPs will vote to approve or refuse the 27-member commission on 22 October. Uncertainty remains over a number of positions after Hungary’s nominee, Tibor Navracsics, was rejected for the post responsible for education, culture, youth and citizenship.
HSBC directors resign over PRA rules
The FT (£, p1) writes that two HSBC UK board members have resigned over new rules which could see senior bankers jailed in the event of misconduct in the area their responsibility. One senior banker told the paper: “This is an industry concern. A lot of people are saying they won’t join bank boards or won’t stay on them.” Treasury Select Committee chairman Andrew Tyrie MP said: “The crisis showed that there must be much greater individual responsibility in banking. A buck that does not stop with an individual often stops nowhere.”Read more