Building the trustworthiness of the British banking sector will be a “long haul”, a former regulator has warned, as the Banking Standards Board (BSB) publishes its first annual review.
The BSB is an independent body set up last year to improve standards of behaviour in the Square Mile and restore the public’s trust in financial institutions. Dame Colette Bowe, the former Ofcom chair who now chairs the BSB, told City A.M. that despite a willingness from the banks to push through cultural changes, it is “important to be realistic” about how long it will take to regain the public’s trust.
“If you want trust, you have to become trustworthy. And you can’t become trustworthy overnight,” Bowe said, adding that big banks face serious setbacks each time they are hit with misconduct charges or public scandals: “It does set them back, there is absolutely no question.
“It would be a very foolish person who said there is nothing more to come.”
Bowe was appointed by Bank of England governor Mark Carney to chair the atypical banking board, which counts former Treasury select committee chairman Lord McFall, Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) director Paul Johnson and former Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Sir Brendan Barber among its members.
The board is paid for by British banks, but Bowe was quick to say that she is not “just a very sophisticated kind of sock puppet” for the industry.
“This is not just about spin and PR,” Bowe said, adding she hoped the public would “judge us by what we do”.
“You have to judge us by outcomes rather than who is paying.”
BSB chief executive Alison Cottrell agreed, saying the board hoped to restore not only the trust of customers, but the confidence of industry professionals: “It’s people being proud to say they work in the banking sector.”