Vickers: UK reform on track but Europe questions remain open

28 Mar 2013 | 02:10 pm | 1 min. read

Speaking to an audience of over 100 delegates at Pinsent Masons' London headquarters, Sir John Vickers, the former head of Independent Commission on Banking, praised the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS) for developing further the momentum behind UK banking reform.

Sir John, who chaired the Independent Commission on Banking (ICB), welcomed progress towards banking reform in the UK while highlighting unresolved questions in Europe.

On “ring-fencing” retail from investment banking he said: "I welcome anything that makes the ring-fence stronger and more durable, including ‘electrification’ – the idea of the PCBS”. The ‘first reserve power’ recommended by the PCBS would enable total separation of individual institutions that sought to undermine the fence.

“I would however pause before putting in this Bill the 'second reserve power', to have a sectoral split," said Sir John. "We did not recommend a sectoral full-break up because we believe ring-fencing will work, and because if you had a sectoral split then you would be creating a standalone UK retail banking sector which might be very highly correlated within itself."

"This would mean that, in the event of a UK rather than global financial crisis, you could not have the rest of the bank rescue the UK retail banking sector," said Sir John. "If I was proved wrong, and a sectoral split did prove necessary, my constitutional feeling would be that that should require fresh legislation. On that, I am not against the Government view on the current Bill”.

Vickers' Independent Commission on Banking (ICB), which delivered its final recommendations to the Government in 2011, believed that 'ring fencing' banks' retail operations into a separate subsidiary of a wider banking group would be "better for financial stability" than full separation from their investment activities, he said.

 David Isaac, a Partner at Pinsent Masons who is leading the Pinsent Masons Horizons lecture series, says:

"We are delighted that Sir John Vickers was able to attend and give such an insightful and thought-provoking talk. We now look forward to the next lecture in the series when  Paul Pindar, chief executive of Capita PLC, will speak to us about how essential sourcing is to the recovery of the UK financial landscape."

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