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Dame Colette Bowe appointed Chairman of the Banking Standards Review Council

9 Oct 2014 – Dame Colette Bowe has been appointed to the role of Chairman of the Banking Standards Review Council (BSRC), the new body charged with promoting high standards across banks and building societies in the UK.

The appointment follows a process involving an independent selection panel chaired by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, and comprising the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Baroness Onora O’Neill, the philosopher and crossbench member of the House of Lords and Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.

Sir Richard Lambert, the interim chairman who was asked by the banking industry to set up the new standards organisation, said:

“I am very pleased to be passing the baton to Colette Bowe. She gets things done and I could not imagine anyone better qualified to take on this important and worthwhile job.”

Dame Colette was most recently chairman of Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, and of Electra Private Equity plc. She has experience both working inside the financial industry and as a financial regulator as the first chief executive of the Personal Investment Authority.

One of her first jobs at the BSRC will be to appoint a Chief Executive and to take forward the process of getting formal sign up to the new organisation from banks and building societies.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said:

“I am delighted that Colette has agreed to become the first chairman of the Banking Standards Review Council. Colette not only has a deep understanding of financial services regulation, but also a proven track record of improving standards of safety, fairness and integrity across a range of industries. I wish her every success in bringing that experience to the UK banking sector.”

Dame Colette said:

“This is a very big challenge but I am confident that we are all ready to give it our best shot. I certainly am and will press on with setting up the BSRC as fast as possible.”

The BSRC was set up with the support of the UK’s six largest banks and biggest building society and will be responsible for setting standards for culture, competence and customer outcomes. Funded by the industry, it will publish an annual report showing the progress banks have made and where they are falling down. It will aim to publish an initial report on the state of banking standards and good practice in the first half of next year.

Dame Colette will take up her role at the BSRC on 1st November.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors

1) Dame Colette Bowe has worked as a City practitioner, a consumer champion and a regulator of both financial services and the media and communications industry. Most recently she was independent Chairman of Ofcom (2009-14), the telecoms regulator, and Chairman of Electra Private Equity plc (2010-14).

Her non-executive roles have included Deputy Chairman of Thames Water (2002-06) and director of AXA Investment Managers Deutschland (2009-14), Axa Investment Managers SA (2011- 2014), London & Continental Railways (2008-11), Morgan Stanley Bank International (2005-10), Goldfish Bank (2007-08) and Yorkshire Building Society (2003-06).

She was the founding Chairman of the Telecoms Ombudsman Service (2002-03) and of the Ofcom Consumer Panel (2003-07).

She was the first Chief Executive of the Personal Investment Authority (1994-97), the former regulator for the life insurance industry and before that Director of Retail Regulation at the Securities and Investments Board (1989-93).

An economist by training, she has degrees in economics from Queen Mary College, London and the London School of Economics. She is currently a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford, a director of the UK Statistics Authority, a non-executive board member of the Department for Transport and Chairman of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

2) Sir Richard Lambert was asked in September 2013 to carry out a review to come up with proposals for a new organisation to raise standards in banking by the chairman of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Standard Chartered and Nationwide. The new organisation is open to all banks and building societies in the UK.

2) The Lambert Review was set up following the recommendations made in June 2013 by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards (PCBS), chaired by Andrew Tyrie MP. The PCBS recommended that work to establish a professional body should begin, in order to demonstrate that commitment to high standards is expected throughout banking and that individuals were expected to abide by higher standards than those that can be enforced through regulation alone.

3) Sir Richard Lambert joined the Financial Times on graduating from university, and served as editor from 1991 to 2001. He was a member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2006, and Director General of the CBI from 2006 to 2011. He is Chancellor of the University of Warwick, lead independent executive on the Supervisory Board of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Chairman of the British Museum.

Senior Managers and Certification Regime

Exploring how the SMCR - and especially Certification - can be implemented in the most effective way across the sector.

The Senior Managers and Certification Regime is a major regulatory change that will affect all banks and building societies. Responding to recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, the government and regulators have together developed a comprehensive framework to ensure better accountability and responsibility for behaviour, competence and culture in banks and building societies. The new framework provides an opportunity for the industry to focus on and demonstrate a culture of professionalism. We are working with firms and regulators to facilitate this, including areas where a common approach across firms could support both the objectives of the regime and the skills and development of the people covered by it.

Professionalism

Evaluating whether a more 'professional' approach to banking would improve behaviour and competence across the industry.

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards found that 'banking culture has all too often been characterised by an absence of any sense of collective responsibility to uphold the reputation of the industry', and argued that a greater focus on professionalism could be an answer to this. Working with a leading team at the University of Leeds, we are researching the issues around professionalism in banking. In particular, we are reviewing how professional qualifications are currently used across the sector, and at whether a stronger role for professional bodies, along the lines seen in some other sectors, like medicine or law, would help raise standards. To inform this work and develop a rounded picture of 'professionalism' and what it means in banking, we are surveying banks and building societies, professional bodies and a wide range of other interested groups, including consumer bodies and investors.

Assessments

Providing an honest and impartial assessment to Boards of progress against objectives on behaviour, competence and culture.

The BSB assessment exercise presents Boards with an objective and impartial view of their firm's culture, identifying where things are working well and recommending areas for improvement. It draws on information not only from Boards and senior teams, but also from employees, investors (or members), trade unions, customer groups and other relevant bodies. In doing so, it will provide constructive challenge to each firm individually, while building a collective understanding of common issues across the industry, or sectors within it. We undertook our first annual assessment exercise in 2015 with ten firms (Barclays, Citi, HSBC Bank, Lloyds Banking Group, Metro Bank, Morgan Stanley International, Nationwide, RBS, Santander UK and Standard Chartered). The BSB itself will not publish individual assessment reports - each firm owns its own report - but key themes and messages will be set out in the BSB's annual report, the first of which will be published in Spring 2016. Given that Board engagement is central to the assessment work, only firms that have their headquarters in the UK are eligible for the full assessment exercise. All firms, including branches of firms headquartered overseas, will however be included in a focused membership-wide survey, which will allow each participating firm to benchmark itself against its peer group.

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