Independent standards code needed to ‘inject integrity’ back into banking

Consumer watchdog Which? has demanded the Government setup an independent body to oversee a strict code of conduct for bank staff that it wants to “inject integrity and competition back into banking.”

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Which? says an organisation similar to the General Medical Council for doctors able to enforce “tough sanctions” would help restore trust in the industry. The code should be backed by statute, it continues, to “give it real teeth”.

The watchdog was responding to last week’s report by the Parliamentary Commission into Banking Standards, which contained a number of recommendations including the right to impose criminal sanctions on senior bankers who are judged to have acted recklessly.

A Which? commissioned survey found more than half of UK adults (53 per cent) believe the recommendations will lead to improvements, the majority (84 per cent) want to see an independent body setup. A fifth (19 per cent) do not trust banks to change banking culture.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says the survey confirms the public wants more to be done to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis.

“Consumers have bailed out the banks and endured shoddy service, mis-selling and sky high charges for far too long. But while the report is tough on punishment, it is too weak on prevention. The culture in banks must change to prevent these scandals happening in the first place.

“We are calling on the Government to accept and implement reforms that help consumers without any further delay. We cannot afford to wait for a generation to see integrity and competition injected back into banking.”

The survey was based on responses from 1,065 representative British adults.

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