Mark Garnier, the Conservative MP for Wyre Forest in Worcestershire, has condemned banks for committing “the same crimes” following the financial crisis, and called for greater empowerment and accountability for frontline staff.
Discussing the £14.5m fine imposed on Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest for “serious failings” in their advised mortgage business by the FCA, Treasury select committee member Mr Garnier said: “They are obviously moving on with this, but it’s truly shocking that banks are still committing the same old crimes.
“I want to see frontline staff being held responsible for their actions. But they also need support from the unions and to be empowered, so they can push back when something isn’t right.”
He added: “If the bank gets fined it might be £14m but no frontline staff lose their job. Even if staff were given a £50 fine it could make a difference.”
In a 34-page final notice to RBS and Natwest, the FCA criticised mortgage advice “failings” between 1 June 2011 and 31 March 2013.
The regulator reviewed 164 sales, deciding just two met the standard required in the sales process.
The FCA said the firms’ process for assessing affordability had been “inadequate”, that they were not providing compliant advice to customers looking to consolidate existing debts, and had not considered whether customers’ preferences were appropriate.
The FCA said the monitoring of advised sales had been “inadequate and ineffective”, and that an “inadequate” response to the regulator’s concerns had “resulted in customers being placed at prolonged and continued risk of receiving unsuitable advice.”
The firms faced a £20,678,000 fine but received a 30 per cent discount for settling early, resulting in the £14,474,600 sum.
The government holds 9.1 billion shares in RBS, including 5.1 billion non-voting B shares. The government’s total economic stake in RBS Group is 81 per cent.
Earlier this year, the government blocked RBS plans to pay bankers bonuses of up to twice their salaries.
RBS and Natwest chief executive Ross McEwan said: “Taking out a mortgage is one of the biggest moments in our lives, and our customers have every right to expect the very best service when making this decision. It is clear that in the past the bank just didn’t get this right. This was unacceptable and should never have happened.
“We have worked hard to put things right. When I joined the bank we completely overhauled our processes, and took all our mortgage advisers off the front line for an extensive period of time to get the training required.”
Kim Barrett, independent financial adviser for Hertfordshire-based Barretts Financial Solutions, said: “It doesn’t really surprise me. The mortgage advice qualifications have quite a low level.”