Banks face being hit with a new set of international capital rules aimed at forcing bondholders rather than taxpayers to bail out failing institutions.
Global regulators are seeking support from world leaders to draw up proposals to force banks to hold a minimum amount of debt that can be "bailed in" if a bank collapses.
Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor who is heading global efforts to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, said the move was a necessary component in the "ambitious" desire of the Group of 20 nations to stop the most important banks from being "too big to fail".
As chairman of the Financial Stability Board, Mr Carney was seeking to win political backing for regulators to draw up more concrete plans at this week's G20 summit in Russia.
But even with agreement, he said that the process of protecting countries from "too big to fail" banks would still take a long time and could not be completed until 2015 at the earliest.