Date
25 September 2017
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, says the banking sector is still in the early stages of the cultural change needed to regain public trust. Photo: Bloomberg
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, says the banking sector is still in the early stages of the cultural change needed to regain public trust. Photo: Bloomberg

Banks have long way to go to fix culture, British watchdog says

Britain’s top financial watchdog urged banks to have “zero tolerance” for misconduct, saying the series of scandals that has hit the sector is already prompting customers to switch lenders, Reuters reported.

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said Tuesday the banking sector is still in the early stages of the cultural change needed to regain public trust.

“Culturally complacent” banks should realize that customers can switch to new entrants far more easily now if they don’t like the behavior they see, he added.

The FCA fined five banks, including Britain’s Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC, US$1.77 billion in November for failing to stop traders from trying to manipulate the foreign exchange market. This followed fines slapped on banks that tried to rig interest rate benchmarks.

Wheatley told an FCA enforcement conference that bank directors were committed to improving standards but the message was not reaching frontline staff at banks and more urgency is needed. 

“This is an industry that remains in the foothills of cultural reform,” he said, as he called for more urgency in enhancing ethical standards in the sector.

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