UK Lobby Group Plans to Curb Rogue Bankers
Bankers in Britain could in the future face being struck off an industry-wide register if they misbehave, if plans being drawn up by a U.K. banking group go ahead.
Anthony Browne, the new chief executive of lobby group the British Bankers' Association (BBA) told CNBC that the group is considering the creation of an independent board to oversee ethical standards in banking. One of the ideas being touted is a register from which bankers who misbehave can be "struck off". But such a body must be credible, he said.
"There would be absolutely no point in doing this and setting up a banking standards board if it didn't have credibility, " he said.
"Credibility with parliament, credibility with government, credibility with the consumer groups, credibility with the industry and credibility with the media and the great British public, and that means it has to be independent from the industry, it has to have teeth."
The announcement coincides with the BBA's annual conference and comes at a time when "banker bashing" has reached fever pitch in the City of London. High profile incidents such as large management bonuses and the Libor scandal surrounding Barclays have brought the credibility of the industry into the fore.
"This is sending out the right message, " entrepreneur and investor James Caan told CNBC.
"Sadly what tends to happen is that you've got a huge industry and you always have a small percentage of people that create some of these issues, which I think is much harder to deal with."
Browne hopes that a standards board could mirror the "Hippocratic Oath" already used in other professions such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants or the British Medical Association.
"Many banks do an awful lot of this already, they have codes of ethics that people subscribe to, but there isn't an industry-wide code of ethics, " he said.
Stewart Richardson, a company partner at RMG Wealth Management said that U.K. banks needed to be divided by what they offer to the public to determine how they are dealt with.
"I think that any bank that is doing slightly sexier things, then you have to question how much they can fund themselves from taking deposits from the public, " he told CNBC Wednesday.
"If you're doing aggressive strategies, if it's your own money then you lose it, you go home and don't come back. But when we're playing with other people's money, then there's a dreadful moral hazard involved."
Speaking at the BBA conference, the Bank of England's Deputy Governor, Paul Tucker, gave his own view of how bankers could regain credibility.
Tucker believes that management and junior bankers should not be paid in shares and share options but rather in ways in which are more tied to the medium-term success of the bank.
"Putting it bluntly, that would make it less easy to get rich quick irrespective of the quality of business transacted or the compliance culture in their part of the firm, " he said.
James Caan presents CNBC's new series The Business Class.