Low level of bank switching despite scandals

By Alex Gangitano

Consumers are afraid to switch banks despite growing concerns with their own, a senior financial services regulator has warned.

Giving evidence to MPs on the parliamentary commission on banking standards today, Martin Wheatley – the chief executive designate of the Financial Conduct Authority – said "our culture went away from being about service to consumers".

He called for a "better culture to produce better outcomes" but added: "Portability is an expensive exercise."

Wheatley said people's concerns for the security of their money and the limited options they have to choose between were behind the low level of confidence in the sector.

Consumers were not able to differentiate between banks because banks were not clear about their policies, he explained.

Wheatley produced a report in September on how to fix the issues caused by the Libor-rigging scandal, proposing a switch from 'transaction-based' banking to 'relationship-based' banking.

MPs also questioned Wheatley on his plan to prevent corporate-level punishment for the Libor-rigging scandal and push for punishment of individuals instead.

Wheatley said his report included an assurance of more individual punishment in the future.

"Our vision is to be able to take action against any individual in a firm, not just the approved ones, and for the director of a failed bank to not be able to easily reapply as director of a financial institution," he explained.