The more things change...leaders debate post-crisis role of banks

As another World Economic Forum comes to a climax, global leaders remain at odds over the role of financial regulation, and whether the industry has learned from the mistakes of the past.

In a CNBC hosted seminar on the last day of the Davos event, Katherine Garrett-Cox, the CEO of investment and savings business Alliance Trust told an audience that 2015 will be a definitive year for the industry and wanted leaders to "step right up to the plate up" and "stop talking about stuff and actually start doing stuff."

She added: "There is so much more we can accomplish, but we can't do that behind the bars of a prison cell."

Garrett-Cox believes that finance hasn't seen much of a culture change since the global financial crash of 2008, and said that the "bigger have got bigger" by virtue of some banks failing. Therefore, she argued there is an increased the risk of another financial crisis.

Why we're still waiting for a banking 'culture shock'

The CEO said that 2015 would be the ultimate test on whether public-private partnerships actually work, and called on business leaders to realize that they have to be more "socially useful," as she put it.

"It was the behavior of a few that have tarnished of many, there are a number of people that are doing really good work. But at the end of the day my frustration is that it's not happening fast enough," Garrett-Cox said. She added that finance businesses should be looking to help fund climate issues and back sustainable development and equality.

'Repent', or be banished

Prisoner prison
Manuel-F-O | Getty Images

Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International, argued that the world was not seeing "repentance" from finance after joking that bankers should be locked up for some of the crimes that have been investigated by regulators.

"We want to see a real change of values and norms in the financial sectors, it is very important," she said at the debate. She added that banks are still being driven by making profit without thinking about the social impact, but conceded that banks are being punished with hefty fines. She also said some firms have shown good signs of good leadership.

The panelwhich were all co-chairs of the annual meetingalso included Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, Roberto Egydio Setubal, the CEO of Brazilian bank Itaú Unibanco and Robin Niblett, the director of Chatham House, an independent policy institute based in London.

Speaking on global monetary policy, Jim Yong Kim, said that quantitative easing had now been tried in most regions in the world. As a result, monetary policy had now been largely exhausted, he said, calling on national governments to now take on the role of boosting growth.

"The countries that need to make structural reforms should move now," he said. "Now's the time to do it...do those hard things that you have to do and do them right away," Kim added.

The World Bank has recently downgraded its global growth forecast for the year ahead. It now predicts the global economy would grow 3 percent this year, according to its twice-yearly report released on January 13. This was below a previous estimate of 3.4 percent made in June.

It said it was cautious on the economic prospects of the euro zone, Japan and some emerging market countries and believed that cheaper oil prices will result in winners and losers.