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haldane on fixing banking October 30, 2012

Posted by Bradley in : financial regulation , trackback

Andy Haldane gave a speech to Occupy Economics yesterday. He noted:

the crisis was… the story of a system with in-built incentives for self-harm: in its structure, its leverage, its governance, the level and form of its remuneration, its (lack of) competition. Avoiding those self-destructive tendencies means changing the incentives and culture of finance, root and branch. This requires a systematic approach, a structural approach, a financial reformation.

He identified five cs of the ongoing financial reformation: culture; capital; compensation; credit; and competition. And he described some of the regulatory changes under way which relate to these five cs. Cultural change was described as being about separating banking from investment banking, which is only a small part of the sort of change some would like to see. And implementing the separation is proving to be really complex. But in discussing competition he talked about Handelsbanken:

They may be the fastest-expanding bank in the UK at the moment… Their business model is fascinating, Quaker-even, in its orientation. They offer only basic banking services, mortgages and small business loans, to people in a tight, locally-defined catchment area.
All credit decisions are taken locally by people, not centrally by a computer. No bonuses are paid and no-one has a sales-target. When the whole firm out-performs, a contribution is made to a pooled fund which is invested on employees’ behalf. The fruits of success are distributed equally and gratification is deferred.
For banking, this is back to the future. If that sounds attractive, then it is down to us – not regulators, not politicians, you and I – to deliver it. If as bank customers we want to change the culture of banking, then we should start by supporting those banks who are delivering that change. Putting your money where your mouth is would deliver far greater and more durable change than any amount of banker-bashing.


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