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Which? calls for Big Change to bank culture

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by Jan Harris
Which? calls for Big Change to bank culture

Consumer watchdog Which? has launched a new campaign calling for banks to put customers first.

The ‘Big Change’ campaign will put pressure on the banking sector to focus less on profits and more on the services they offer.

Its launch precedes a meeting of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards in December, which will consider proposals for legislative action on professional standards and the culture of the UK banking sector.

The image of banks has been tarnished by a string of scandal including the mis-selling of PPI and other products, and Libor rate fixing.

Which? revealed that bankers are only just above journalists and politicians when it comes to the general public’s trust.

Only 11 per cent of those surveyed by the group thought that bankers would act in their best interest and only 6 per cent believed that bankers act ethically.

Sixty-seven per cent though that bankers would be unlikely to lose their jobs if they lied or cheated.

The Big Change campaign aims to encourage consumers to put pressure on the banking industry and government prior to the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards meeting.

It is calling for the introduction of sanctions to recoup bonuses in the event of corrupt practices or mis-selling and for pay and bonus schemes to prioritise customers rather than sales.

It also wants an independent professional standards body to be established to ensure that individual bankers comply with an ethical code of conduct.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, said: “We thought we’d seen banking at its lowest point when the public were forced to bail out the banks but since then we’ve seen the libor rate-rigging scandal and continued mis-selling.

All the while the bankers who presided over corruption continue to enjoy hugely inflated pay and bonuses.”

Senior figures inside the banking industry are also calling for cultural change.

Sir David Walker, the new chairman of Barclays, said that banks must put their reputation first, not their profits.

“If anyone in the organisation faces any decision that he or she is taking in relation to a client and there’s a choice between profit and reputation it’s clear where priority should be given,” he said.

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News posted: September 19, 2012

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