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Monday, 5 August 2013

There Is Not A Great Retail Bank In The UK

Ross McEwan's appointment as CEO of RBS roundly endorsed his remark that he has been "quite surprised by how bad this industry is. There is not a great retail bank in the UK." 

This from a banker who's reported to have twice failed an accounting module, been passed over for top dog at Commonwealth Bank of Australia and to be "more comfortable with people than figures." 

It's hardly an insightful comment, given the enormous publicity surrounding the damning testimony to the Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, but McEwan is the first senior banker to have the self-awareness to actually admit the appalling state of the industry. As such, the remark even topped today's editorial in the FT. I mean, there's only so much the pink propaganda machine can ignore.

Amidst all this, the Information Commissioner's Office finally revealed the miserable little saga of Bank of Scotland's "chronic and repeated" disclosure of sensitive customer information. Apparently it sent faxes from many different machines to wrong numbers from 2009 to 2012, despite alerts and complaints from mistaken recipients, and notification that the ICO had begun to investigate. The fine: a mere £75,000. Another speeding ticket on the road to oblivion.

Add this to the revelations of UK banks' gross misconduct and poor controls over the past few years, and you have to doubt the wisdom of handing shares in these businesses to the general public

Unless, of course, you want taxpayers to experience the banks' terminal decline firsthand. A sort of 'scandal to end all scandals'.  That would be nice.


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