Carney demands ‘fundamental change’

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Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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Banks should face radical reform including further curbs on pay after a succession of major scandals showed misconduct was not just the fault of a “few bad apples”, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said today.

Mr Carney said fundamental change was needed including the ability to recover fixed pay from high-flying financiers, in addition to new rules allowing bonus claw-backs.

It comes days after six banks were fined £2.6 billion after global regulators found traders had clubbed together to rig foreign exchange markets. That came in the wake of the Libor-rate rigging scandal which had already cost firms billions in penalties.

Mr Carney said: “The repeated nature of these fines demonstrates that financial penalties alone are not sufficient to address the issues raised.

“Fundamental change is needed to institutional culture, to compensation arrangements and to markets.

“The succession of scandals mean it is simply untenable now to argue that the problem is one of a few bad apples.

“The issue is with the barrels in which they are stored.”

In a speech in Singapore, Mr Carney said in some cases the link between those at the top of the bank who should have set out the “cultural norms” among employees had been broken.

The public had been “rightly angered” that leaders who had been responsible for “sowing the seeds of the crisis” and allowing wrongdoing to develop had been able to walk away.

New measures to hold individual executives and board members to account as well as claw back bonuses after up to seven years are being introduced in the UK but Mr Carney said additional reforms may be necessary.

“Standards may need to be developed to put non-bonus or fixed pay at risk,” he said, backing the idea of certain staff being paid partly in “performance bonds”.

“Senior manager accountability and new compensation structures will help to rebuild trust in financial institutions,” Mr Carney added.

The governor acknowledged that there had already been major reforms in “fixing the fault lines that caused the last crisis” with “not a few tears from the financial sector” but insisted more needed to be done.

Mr Carney set out a series of areas where progress needed to be made to build on those changes and turned on critics who were likely to resist.

He also sounded a warning that “these are riskier times” with the degree of financial risk taking seemingly disconnected from developments in real economies.

Mr Carney said a rise in financing from non-bank sources needed to be matched with measures to ensure that sector’s resilience – with the top 10 fund managers now accounting for nearly one fifth of assets under management.

Defending the need for more reform, he said: “Some might feel that, having apparently reached the finish line, the race has been extended. Indeed there will be inevitable calls by some vested interests to turn back.

“Already we can hear some of the runners, particularly those at the back, making world-weary arguments that more reform will hurt jobs and growth, and even that financial crises are just something that happens every five to seven years.

“If that were true, we are due for another crisis about now. Does anyone find that acceptable?

“It is vital that our sons and daughters are taught not that financial crises are inevitable, but that they are both avoidable and tremendously costly for jobs, growth and prosperity.”

His speech comes shortly after plans to force major global banks to shore up their balance sheets were set out by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) – an international body chaired by Mr Carney.

The proposals are designed to stave off the prospect of more taxpayer rescues costing tens of billions of pounds for banks deemed “too big to fail”.

They would force 30 lenders deemed to be of global systemic importance to build up loss-absorbing “buffers” on their balance sheets to up to a quarter of the value of the loans on their books.

In Britain these are HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Chartered.

Published: Monday 17th November 2014 by The News Editor

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