BBA chief urged to boost standards

Hillingdon Times: Banks must drive up standards and put customers first 'to transform a sector that has lost its moral compass' Banks must drive up standards and put customers first 'to transform a sector that has lost its moral compass'

Banks must drive up standards and put customers first "to transform a sector that has lost its moral compass", the chief executive of consumer group Which? has said.

In an open letter to Anthony Browne, who has been appointed the new chief executive of the British Bankers' Association (BBA), Peter Vicary-Smith asks him to take the opportunity to lead by example and work with the banks to "take real action to reform their practices".

Mr Vicary-Smith described a "real crisis" in consumer trust and confidence, which he said was at an all time low, while there was a perception that banks put bankers before customers.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of people do not think UK banks have learnt their lesson from the financial crisis - up from 61% in September last year, he said.

He tells Mr Browne that as the new head of the BAA, an organisation that represents more than 200 banks, he is in a unique position and has a "golden opportunity" to transform the sector which has been blighted by scandal in recent years while bankers have continued to receive "excessive" bonuses.

Mr Vicary-Smith said fundamental changes were needed, and he asks Mr Browne to prioritise five actions.

As well as driving up standards and putting customers first, he asks him to demonstrate leadership and establish the BBA as a credible voice.

The fifth request is for him to up the pace of reform in order to help banks make changes immediately rather than wait for the regulator or the Government to force them to act.

He adds: "The time is right for making a positive difference and your appointment presents a timely opportunity for a fresh start for the BBA.

"I hope you embrace and push forward the reforms that are desperately needed to turn banking into an industry that consumers can trust, where banks are for customers, not bankers."

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