Vickers Report compliance key to banks salvaging their reputations

Britain's banks must put compliance with Sir John Vickers' report at the top of their agenda to rebuild their reputations, according to financial PR practitioners in the latest PRWeek podcast.

Banking compliance: Alex Evans (left) and Jonathan Shillington
Banking compliance: Alex Evans (left) and Jonathan Shillington

With stories of UBS rogue trader Kweku Adoboli and Business Secretary Vince Cable’s recent attack on the moral behaviour of Britain’s banks, the industry has made recent headlines for all the wrong reasons.

In PRWeek’s podcast this week Jonathan Shillington, MD of corporate and financial at Grayling, dismissed Cable’s party conference speech referring to banks' 'unrestrained greed' as typical from a man known for ‘bank bashing’.

The outcome of the Vickers Report, which has given Britain’s banks until 2012 to reform their operations and prevent further taxpayer bailouts, is what Shillington believes the banks really should be concerned with.

Uplands PR MD Alex Evans, formerly in-house at ABN AMRO, echoed that sentiment: ‘The reputational issues affecting the banks at the moment are just the latest stages in a long-running episode.

‘What is interesting is that the Vickers Report has made regulatory recommendations to the UK banking industry that have been made rational by the latest major event [the UBS rogue trader's £1.5 billion fraud] and made those changes unavoidable now.’

Shillington said banks must get into line with the report’s recommendations or ‘risk further reputational issues’. He added: ‘The bank that goes first and complies with the report will be seen in a positive light – it’s just who will be prepared to go first?’

But with the banks reportedly unhappy over many aspects of the Vickers Report, Shillington advised banks to lobby against the changes quickly and carefully to avoid damaging their reputations further.

‘It’s all about ongoing engagement. Banks can’t be seen to be hiding away and frightened to answer the difficult questions. They need to not just be talking about their own businesses but also about their wider social responsibility.’

Watch PRWeek's podcast in full here

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