Banks still fail to learn their lesson

Five years on from the day the global financial crisis officially started and the public are more disillusioned with the banking sector than ever before.

As the parliamentary inquiry on banking standards prepares to get underway, a new Which? survey has found almost three-quarters (71 percent) of people don’t think UK banks have learnt their lesson from the financial crisis – up from 61 percent in September 2011.

Consumers also have low expectations that the inquiry will lead to change, with only a quarter of people (26 percent) confident that it will lead to positive improvements in UK banks.

Since the start of the financial crisis consumers have been bearing the brunt of the recession with the Which? latest wellbeing survey showing that nearly half are worried about mortgage rates (45 percent) and the level of their household debt (42 percent).

At the same time, consumers have been hit by a series of bank scandals, which have further exposed the broken culture and mismanagement in UK banking. These include the mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI), Libor interest rate rigging, and IT system failures at Natwest and Nationwide. Which? is calling for the banking inquiry to produce tough new proposals to force banks to work better for consumers by tackling the lack of culture and competition in banking.

Other findings from Which? are:

* 84 percent of people think that the banks have not done enough to change the banking industry to ensure another credit crunch does not happen again – an increase from 76 percent in September 2011.

* 71 percent think the banking culture has not got any better since the start of the credit crunch.

* 50 percent of people think that the government’s handling of the banking industry has also got worse.

* 80 percent think there is a deeper problem with the culture in banks than just a few individuals making bad decisions.

Which? Chief Executive Peter Vicary-Smith says the parliamentary banking inquiry must produce proposals for fundamental change to the culture and practices of the banks: “And put the best interests of consumers back at the centre of reforms. Nothing should be off the table if the Government is to rebuild consumer confidence in this essential service.”

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