Flint is essentially calling for a cultural revolution in the banking sector, no wonder he’s being so vague on the details.
Bankers are used to swearing oaths of one sort — but HSBC’s chairman Douglas Flint wants them to try another. In an attempt to clean up the profession, Flint is pushing for the formation of an independent body with a code of conduct to which bankers would have to agree. It’s a noble gesture, but one unlikely to come off.
Flint is working with the British Bankers Association and has set up a committee to investigate the possibility of creating an independent body to regulate bankers’ practice. He would want the body to work in association with the FSA, and have the power to strike off bankers if they broke the code of conduct.
HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint
And therein lies the problem. Bankers already have guidelines available to them regarding how they should go about their work; the first of the principles for good business devised in 2004 by Lord George, the former governor of the Bank of England, says bankers need to ‘act honestly and fairly at all times when dealing with clients, customers and counter-parties.’
Clearly, no one in banking has taken much notice of that, and under the FSA’s present rules, hardly any bankers have been censured, let alone struck off. Flint is essentially calling for a cultural revolution in the banking sector, and the establishment of an independent regulator with unprecedented power over the UK’s biggest financial institutions. No wonder he’s being so vague on the details of how this is actually going to happen.
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