The UK’s economy has felt the reverberating affects of the recession and many of the country’s banks were brought close to collapse.
As a result the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) has released proposals to change the way in which banks operate. If the UK government gives the go-ahead on these proposals the British people could see major changes in banking security and competitiveness, improving both services and products.
Published earlier this week, the ICB’s report sets out their plans for a new and safer banking system that limits the risk to customers’ money as well as liability to the tax-payer if a bank should fail.
Key changes to the banking system:
1. Retail banking (mortgages, savings, credit cards and current accounts) will be kept seperate from far riskier investment banking (stocks and shares dealing). In addition to this the ICB have suggested:
• Banks are to put a “worst case scenario” plan into place that allows their retail banking to continue servicing the need of customers, even if the investment banking fails.
• Banks will have to set a limitation on the extent to which the retail section can bail out the investment side of the bank should it get into financial difficulty.
2. Banks are to make it a simpler process to switch bank accounts. Including:
• Introducing portable account numbers so that customers will not need to change direct debits and standing orders if they switch accounts.
• A seven day transfer period to be enforced to speed up the process of switching accounts from one bank to another.
4. Larger banks such as Lloyds Banking Group should be made to sell off more retail branches as they currently provide up to 30% of all british current accounts. The ICB feel that this financial burden should be reduced.
It’s believed that, once the proposals have been scrutinised, the ICB will present their suggestions for banking reform to the British Government.
The final decision will lie with the Government to decide whether the benefits outweigh the risks to the tax-payers and whether further rules and restrictions will push the large banks off of British soil.
In spite of this it should be noted that the ICB began this investigation at the insistence of the Chancellor. This suggests that, if not all, then many of their recommendations are likely to be put in place.
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