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April 9, 2013

Banking values

What does it take to change the culture of a British bank for the better? Two reports out this week – one from parliament and the other from a large UK banking group – give different perspectives on the same question. The first convinces more than the second.

In their report into the collapse of HBOS, the parliamentary banking standards commission call for better bankers. It was not only Fred Goodwin who was “incompetent but not legally culpable”, in the words of Sir Hector Sants, the former head of the Financial Services Authority, describing the most notorious British banking boss. The same, the MPs argue, could be said of the board of HBOS.

The bank tested to the limit the theory that anyone with general management experience or an MBA from a decent business school could run a large credit institution. Most of its top brass had a background in retail or insurance. Yet the risks involved in maturity transformation clearly require a specific set of skills that go beyond those required to sell groceries. If the crunch holds any lessons, it is that banks’ importance to the functioning of the economy makes the possession of those skills even more vital.”



Read full Financial Times editorial here



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