Wednesday 29 April 2009

'We know why people believe bankers were greedy and incompetent'

'The public have lost trust because they believe that senior bank executives were greedy, self-interested and, worse, were incompetent. We understand why they feel that. Banks have to acknowledge that we have made mistakes", Antony Jenkins, head of Barclaycard has just told tonight's Fabian Trust and the City debate.

Jenkins offered a strong 'we get it message' - acknowledging that John McFall MP had offered a "provocative" opening but said McFall had "stolen many of my best lines" because he agreed with most of the critique which had been put.

Banks could regain trust only by showing that they were ready to change the way they operated, said Jenkins.

This meant that there would have to be more effective regulation, higher capital requirements, a less debt fuelled economy and bank renumeration linked to performance and aligned to longer-term shareholder value.

"We are committed to that agenda. We are committed to changing the way we do business. We hope that implementing that agenda will help to regain some of the trust", he said.

Restoring trust was essential since, as John McFall had suggested, banks were the lifeblood of the economy. So Jenkins accepted that the onus was on the banks to show that they would change. The quid pro quo was that - if the banks showed they would change - politicians who were one of the main sources of criticism should acknowledge the change.

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