Sir John Vickers warns Bank of England "too big to fail" bank buffers are not enough

Lynsey Barber
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John Vickers has questioned the Bank of England (Source: Getty)

New requirements for banks to hold enough capital to prevent them from going under in the event of another financial crisis have been questioned by Sir John Vickers.

In a stark warning Vickers, the author of 2011's Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) report in the wake of the financial crisis and subsequent bailouts, has called the wisdom of the BoE's requirements "questionable"

The requirement is expected to impose a buffer that equates to 0.5 per cent of risk-weighted assets (RWA) across the banking sector, in addition to existing global ones under Basel II rules from European regulators, but that's less than the three per cent recommended by the report.

"Some UK banks are so important internationally that they have extra equity requirements to protect global stability. The BoE proposal adds some, but relatively little, further equity to protect domestic stability. The ICB proposal, by contrast, went well beyond global requirements to boost the resilience of the UK banking system," he said, writing in the Financial Times.

The systematic risk buffer (SRB) as it's known, would apply to the UK's biggest banks such as Lloyds, HSBC, Barclays and RBS, and their soon to be ring-fenced retail banking operations, but not smaller banks and challenger banks to promote competition in the market.

"Given the awfulness of systemic bank failures, ample insurance is need­ed, and equity is the best form of insurance. The recent volatility in bank stocks underlines the importance of strong capital buffers. The BoE should think again," Vickers warned.

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