Simon Read: the Government must force banks to serve us, not just profit from us

 

Tens of millions of bank customers appear to know something that the Chancellor doesn't. It's that there urgently needs to be change before we can start trusting bankers again.

MPs were the latest this week to tell George Osborne that his attempts to reform banks are woeful. In a damning report published on Monday, the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards calls Mr Osborne's plan "wholly inadequate" and the Government's arguments "insubstantial".

The commission repeated its call for watchdogs to be handed reserve powers to break up the entire British banking industry. That may sound unnecessarily drastic, but let's bear in mind that banks' actions came close to bringing about the collapse of the whole economy.

Mr Osborne has been talking big about his proposed moves. He has said he will introduce powers to "electrify the ring-fence" if lenders fail to keep high street branch operations separate from the dealing floor.

"2013 is the year when we reset our banking system so the banks work for their customers and not the other way round," he said in a speech outlining the banking reform Bill last month.

The Chancellor believes that handing regulators powers to split the entire industry is unnecessary. But Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the Parliamentary Commission, said Mr Osborne must go further and introduce a "second reserve power for full, industry-wide separation" if the ring-fence is breached. In other words, a sensible protective measure.

Beyond the political squabbling is a decision that will affect all of us. Banks must be made to put their customers' needs first, rather than seeing them simply as clients to whom they can flog expensive insurance.

With that in mind, it's interesting to examine research published this week by the ethical bank Triodos. It shows that 16.5 million people feel only negative or indifferent feelings towards their bank, with many feeling angry or ashamed about it.

When asked to describe their bank, 16 per cent of banking customers used the word "greedy", while a further 6 per cent used "unethical".

When it comes to regaining trust, banks need to offer fairer charges and decent products and be totally transparent about fees and the way they profit from us all.

Perhaps the most damning statistic in the Triodos research is the fact that just 7 per cent of banking customers think their bank is transparent.

That shows just how far banks need to go to start restoring trust. And it should send a message to Mr Osborne that his banking reforms are still falling far short of being adequate.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

    Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

    Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

    £18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

    Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

    £35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

    Day In a Page

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss