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Banks put pressure on Govt to bring forward banking reforms

Barclays and HSBC are calling on the Government to bring forward banking reforms from the 2019 deadline.

Speaking to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards this week, Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins and HSBC chairman Douglas Flint called for new rules to be implemented quickly, adding “the sooner the better”.

The draft banking reform bill was published last month and will implement Sir John Vickers’ Independent Commission on Banking proposals to ring-fence banks’ retail arms from investment operations.

Jenkins said: “The sooner we conclude the process to get to definite regulation, the sooner we can begin the process of implementation.”

Flint also backed greater certainty over the rules. He said: “The sooner we can get final rules, the sooner we can begin to implement them.”

Santander UK chief executive Ana Botin disagreed, saying it will take time to implement the new rules. She said 2019 is a suitable deadline.

MPs have already signalled a desire to bring forward the timetable, including Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Banks have previously been resistant to Vickers’ proposals, with the British Bankers’ Association claiming in June that aspects of the ringfence are “nonsense”.

A senior banking source says: “Most entities will get themselves Vickers compliant well before the deadline. From a reputational risk perspective a lot of these businesses are sick of being pounded.”

Lansons Communications director Ralph Jackson says: “Banks have recognised they need to adapt over the next few years and can argue the detail later when legislation is here. That is a change in tone and strategy from earlier when it seemed like they did not want to change until 2019.”

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