New FCA boss: Time to end banker-bashing

Emma Haslett
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Bailey (centre): "Public opinion broadly does not recognise changes to behaviour" (Source: Getty)

Banker-bashing: it's one of the UK's favourite hobbies. But now the soon-to-be boss of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, has said it's time to start using the carrot, rather than the stick.

In a speech today, Bailey - who is expected to take up his new post shortly - said although changes have taken place in the finance sector which has improved behaviour, the UK continues to bash bankers with gay abandon.

Major changes have occurred since the crisis which have improved behaviour in firms, but public opinion broadly does not recognise these developments and tends to think that nothing has changed.

The statement was part of a wide-ranging speech on corporate culture at finance firms, which appeared to set out Bailey's focus as he steps into his new role.

Read more: What's replacing banker bashing?

"I want to start with what I intend as an unambiguous statement, namely that the culture of firms and the people that make them up... is of the utmost importance to financial regulators," he said.

But he added that he recognises the FCA has a challenge on its hands.

"As supervisors, we cannot go into a firm and say “show us your culture”. But we can, and do, tackle firms on all the elements that contribute to defining culture, and from that we build a picture of the culture and its determinants."

Bailey also spoke about the new Senior Managers Regime, which could hold directors of banks which go under criminally liable.

Read more: Osborne to call for an end to 'banker bashing'

"[The Senior Managers Regime] is... an important hook to assist in firms’ shaping their own culture, and also to provide regulators with the powers to conduct supervisory oversight and to act when needed.

"But, let me reiterate that it is not the job of regulators to enforce culture and to change culture. If we have to step in, and occasionally we do, the overriding conclusion is that management has failed."

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