Alert: International Financial Regulation
Early this morning, the UK’s Independent Commission on Banking (“ICB”), chaired by Sir John Vickers, issued its final report on the reform of British banking. The ICB largely reiterated the measures first outlined in its interim report in April and summarized in a previous Alert. Whilst banks may not be initially rushing to relocate overseas, there is no doubt implementation of the ICB’s conclusions will be expensive (estimated at around £6 billion annually). The ICB believes that incremental benefits will exceed costs by “a very large margin,” a view perhaps not widely held as London’s FTSE 100 reportedly fell by over 2.3% in early trading following the report’s release, with bank shares the biggest fallers. The ICB’s challenge was twofold. As well as creating a more stable and competitive basis for UK banking, it was also tasked with ensuring an “effective and efficient” banking service to safeguard retail deposits. The report notes the global events and goals to which the UK is subject and recognizes that part of the challenge is reconciling the UK’s position as an international financial centre with stable banking in the UK. It remains to be seen whether the report will lead to enhancement or divestment of the UK’s reputation as a pre-eminent financial centre.
The report proposes a combination of measures requiring structural reform and greater capital/other loss-absorbing capacity. The ICB intends risks associated with banking should not …