16 June 2010

Review of UK Banks

Back in the UK a review has been commissioned about the future shape of the banking sector.

Sir John Vickers, former head of the Office of Fair Trading and a consumer champion, was confirmed on Wednesday as the head of a wide-ranging banking review that could decide the future shape of some of Britain’s biggest banks. George Osborne, chancellor, said Sir John’s independent banking commission would look at a number of issues, including the future “size, scale and function” of the banking sector.

The review, which will conclude within a year, will examine the case for splitting up the retail and investment arms of the biggest banks.

Mr Osborne told the Commons, however, that Sir John’s review would have a wider remit, taking in an examination of the role of banks in allowing the “build up of risk” in the economy.

Sir John’s experience in the field of competition will also be deployed to assess the impact of any reforms on retail and wholesale customers: in other words to ensure that they maximise competition.

Mr Osborne suggested to MPs that he would await the outcome of the banking review before deciding on how to proceed with the sale of stakes in the nationalised banks.

Much attention will focus on the details of his plans to put the Bank at the heart of the new regulatory structure and what role the Financial Services Authority will play in the new system as a supervisor of individual banks.

This will be interesting. In the UK we have very few independent banks. But we have some of the biggest in the world. HSBC and Barclays are the big boys now.
In my opinion the banks that are already controlled by the government should be turned into one big "peoples bank'. I remember the days when banks had brands and images we all understood. For example the old TSB Bank was commonly referred to as the 'Flat Cap Bank' where the 'working class' saved their money. God forbid we can use those terms nowadays.

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