The Banking Industry needs urgent reform, Sir Mervyn King, Bank of England Governor said today.
Speaking at the launch of the Bank’s twice-yearly Financial Stability Report, Sir Mervyn said the banking culture and structure suffered from “excessive levels of compensation, shoddy treatment of customers, as well as deceitful manipulation of one of the most important interest rates.”
His comments accompanied news today that the UK’s big four banks have been found to have mis-sold complicated financial products to thousands of small businesses.
And there was also the mis-selling personal payment insurance to people who either did not need it, would not be able to claim on it, or did not know they had been sold it.
Sir Mervyn said: “We can see we need a real change in the culture of the industry.
“We don’t need any inquiry to know what we should be doing. There must be many people who work in banking today who know that they are honest, hard-working and feel they have been let down by some of their colleagues and indeed their leaders. What I hope is that everyone – everyone – now understands that something went very wrong with the UK banking industry and we need to put it right.”
He called for the government to implement the recommendations of the Vickers Commission on banking, which said that more risky investment banking should be separated from day-to-day banking needs of individuals and small businesses.”
Simon Walker, the head of the Institute of Directors, said in a statement: “As well as ripping off their customers, they have also harmed the reputation of business as a whole – they should feel deep shame for the damage they have done.”
Friday’s trading saw a rise in the share prices of banks, despite a ratings agency Moody’s downgrade of 15 global banks and financial institutions.
The Credit Ratings Agency separated the 15 banks into three groupings, relative to its assessment of their resilience to any global financial market turmoil.
It put HSBC in its strongest “first group”, together with Royal Bank of Canada and JP Morgan, saying that these banks had “stronger buffers” than many of their peers, and “generally more stable businesses”.
Barclays was in its “second group” of banks which Moody’s says face “sometimes adverse factors”. Other banks at this level are BNP Paribas and Goldman Sachs.
RBS is in the bottom “third group”, which comprises banks which “have been affected by problems in risk management, or have a history of high volatility”. Other banks in this grouping include Bank of America and Citigroup.
Moody’s global banking managing director Greg Bauer said that all of the banks affected by the downgrades had “significant exposure to the volatility and risk of outsized losses”. Moody’s added that it was putting some of the banks on a negative outlook, which is a warning that they could be downgraded again in the future. Explaining this, it said governments around the world had shown a “clear intent” to reduce their support for banks going forward.
The !5 banks that were downgraded are
UK banks – Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays and HSBC. Lloyds also had its rating cut by Moody’s in a separate announcement.
Others – Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse, UBS, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Societe Generale, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Citi Group, Bank of America.
Despite the downgrades, shares in Royal Bank of Scotland were up 1.5%, HSBC had gained 0.7% and Barclays had risen 0.9%. Lloyds was 1.6% higher.
In France, Societe Generale was up 2.5%, while in Germany, shares in Deutsche Bank had gained 0.6%.
And on Wall Street, Bank of America was up 0.9% and Citigroup rose 1.2%.