Banks to report pounds 10bn record profits

Britain's seven top high-street banks will report record profits of more than pounds 10bn for 1996 - and spark more complaints that small businesses, in particular, are still getting a raw deal.

City broker Salomon Brothers expects Barclays to lead the sector and return more than pounds 650m to investors in share buybacks this year and another pounds 550m next year.

National Westminster is also expected to spend at least pounds 300m on buybacks in 1997, making banks a prime political target.

They have gone a long way towards calming customers' anger in the last 12 months, not least by giving advance notice of changes in charges.

However, small businesses still consider them too expensive, too cautious on backing new ideas and poor at keeping relationships.

"There's no case at all for complacency. The banks are still too short term. The average manager stays just two years - hardly the way to build up relationships," said Alison Causfield, business economist at the Institute of Directors.

"There's too much emphasis on security, and overcharging keeps on coming up again and again," she added.

Lloyds TSB kicks off the annual reporting season on Valentine's Day, followed in rapid succession by Barclays, NatWest, Abbey National and HSBC-owned Midland Bank.

Together with the main two clearers north of the border, Royal Bank of Scotland and Bank of Scotland, the main banks will turn in pre-tax profits of pounds 10.4bn for 1996 - up nearly 20 per cent from pounds 8.7bn last year.

"This should certainly be a record year for the UK sector," said John Leonard, banking analyst at Salomon.

Flotation of the Halifax, Woolwich and Alliance & Leicester building societies - worth pounds 20bn in all - will spur competition in the second half, in particular for savers' deposits.

But, according to brokers' latest estimates, profits from the top seven will set a new record in 1997 - nearly pounds 12bn - following economic growth, resurgence in the housing market and further pruning of branches and staff.

The City is ruling out a windfall tax, however, by either Labour or the Conservatives, talk of which resurfaced after sparkling interim results from the banks before last year's Budget.

But with those figures rolling around, observers expect small business to be a key political battleground.

"There is likely to be political pressure to provide better value for money," said Mark Thomas, banking analyst at brokers Collins Stewart.

"The small business sector is the most profitable for the banks, so on that basis you can say they're overcharged more than others."

This weekend, the 95,000-strong Federation of Small Businesses said that just 20 per cent of new start-ups were gaining the backing of banks against 50 per cent normally.

A spokesman said entrepreneurs had become shy after bad experiences with high charges in the recession, while banks had become more risk averse in their drive for profits.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manager - (communications, testing, DM)

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Services Manage...

Guru Careers: Finance Account Manager

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Finance Account Manager with...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas