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Monday, 31 March 2014

Bischoff's Understated Record Speaks For Itself

The departure of Lloyds Banking Group chairman, Sir Win Bischoff, provides another reminder that nothing much has changed in UK banking. 

The so-called 'City grandee' has spent the past five years as chairman of a banking group that's been fined at least £40m so far, and owes customers £10bn in compensation for mis-sold PPI. The fines have included £28m for mis-selling individual savings accounts and income protection insurance products between 2010 and 2012. Yet Win still talks of banking with his 'stomach' (as did the Lehman's gang) and trots out the languid understatement that "all of us have to be very much more mindful of whether the product or service we provide actually meets the needs of the customer." 

Win doesn't need to say that he hates all this new-fangled regulation - we get that from the career stats - but he reminds us anyway, in typically understated fashion: "I still hark back to the days when I would have tea with the governor of the Bank of England and he wouldn't be sitting there with the rule book. He would say '"Win... is this the right way of going about it or should you be in this kind of business'." 

History doesn't record how often the governor actually said this to Win, or what Win said or did in response (if anything). But it's pretty clear that tea consumed in this manner was spectacularly harmful for the UK economy. Unless, of course, you count steadily declining bank competition, mortgage endowment mis-selling, consistent underinvestment in payment systems and a century of under-funding small businesses as wondrous achievements... (and, you know, I think Win just might!).

Anyhow, Win will have plenty of opportunities for cosy chats over a nice cup of tea in future, as he's off to head up the Financial Reporting Council, the accountancy 'watchdog'. They'll relish his capacity for understatement over there, too. You see the FRC has been having a little difficulty in defining the nature of scepticism in the audit context...  biscuit?


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