Business

How to jail bankers

  • 19 June 2013
  • From the section Business
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The parliamentary commission on banking standards believes that banks let us down so comprehensively in the boom years that led to the great crash that what's required is a complete cultural overhaul.

And that, in turn, needs one reform that is simple to understand but really hard to put into practice - bankers need to be clear about their responsibilities and held properly to account when things go wrong.

To to achieve that, it recommends:

1) a whole new regulatory system for licensing or approving bankers

2) financial incentives, bonuses, that are dished out over as long as ten years and are easy to cancel when things go wrong

And 3) a new criminal offence of managing a bank recklessly.

The commission is in a sense responding to public unease that no one responsible for the banking meltdown has gone to prison, and the failed, discredited bankers remain very wealthy.

But it is more than that. The Lords and MPs on the commission want banks and bankers that take a long term view and don't take dangerous risks in the pursuit of big rewards.

There is, of course, a danger in setting much higher standards of conduct for bankers than for other business people - which is that few in their right minds might choose banking as a career.