All Hail 2012: It’s Time to Change

Original post by Staff on December 28, 2012

opportunitiesAs announcements go, it wasn’t a very big deal when the British Bankers’ Association said at the end of the year that it is urging its 200 member banks to participate in a broad, two-pronged initiative to boost the industry’s image. Part of the plan is to monitor “people’s concerns before they become massive scandals”—a worthy goal, to be sure. But this wasn’t an isolated symptom of the problem. At around the same time, a Financial Times survey of 93 Members of Parliament revealed that fully two-thirds of the legislators believe British banks should be required to create a stronger barrier between investment banking and what’s known as ‘high-street’ operations. More worryingly, this wasn’t a liberal push for more regulation—the number of Conservative MPs backing the idea is actually higher than their Labour counterparts. There’s already a proposal to create a ‘ringfence’ around retail banking, but the new research indicates that many think the changes don’t go far enough.

That’s really the recurring theme here. If 2012 was a year of major change for banking institutions and individuals around the world, then 2013 will require even more.

A tsunami of bad news throughout the year was capped off by the news late in December of massive fines levied against UBS. The Swiss banking conglomerate ponied up $1.5 billion to global regulators, including $700 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) alone, the largest such settlement in the agency’s history. The fines stemmed from the charges of manipulation directed primarily at the bank’s Japanese securities subsidiary, all part of the mushrooming Libor scandal. Continue reading ›

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