Everyone knows there was a huge bill to pay after the financial crash. Bail outs, special liquidity measures and various other measures of life support were given to the financial sector to stop its problems wrecking the whole economy.
The price was high and is still being paid by the public in the UK and many other countries.
However banking’s problems are not just financial. They are cultural too. PPI mis-selling, money laundering, Libor fixing and other scandals have exposed a culture where it seems the customer is there to be fleeced, reputational damage can be ignored and the price for products can be fixed without regard to the normal rules of competition.
These scandals are a betrayal of the taxpayers who bailed out the banks and the majority of good honest people who work in the industry.
Banking’s cultural problems stem from a complete misalignment of risk, responsibility and reward.
Banks have run huge risks with other people’s money and without understanding the risks they were taking.
They then paid themselves huge rewards on the basis of not understanding these risks.
And when things went wrong there was far too little personal responsibility and accountability.
So the report of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards has at its heart a plan to realign risk, reward and responsibility.
Deferred payouts should not happen until the results of risks are known – perhaps many years after decisions are taken.
Banks have to care about customers more – including low income customers and those who currently don’t even have bank accounts.
Individual named people should take responsibility for business lines and decisions – hiding behind corporate fines has to stop.
And there should be tougher sanctions including a new criminal offence of running a bank recklessly.
The public wants to see proper accountability in the banking industry. Implementing these reforms would be a start.