Opinion  

Sheriff shown door

Financial Adviser

The abrupt removal of Martin Wheatley as chief executive of the City regulator might have been meant to indicate that chancellor George Osborne wants to turn a new page on the City’s relationship with the Treasury.

But, as most unintended consequences are, it sent a totally different message according to where one sits on this vast and complex financial services sector.

For bankers, it may well signal the end of ‘banker bashing’, a phrase which suggests that to be critical of the way banks have behaved since the global financial crisis is somehow to be illogical and irresponsible.

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Forget for the time being that the banks were largely responsible for the sub-prime crisis and, to cut a long story short, the £375m in quantitative easing was largely to provide liquidity for the banks, it is clear that the chancellor has given way to some powerful lobbies.

On a basic level, ordinary account holders are still complaining about the way they have been treated – and still are – by the high street banks.

If it is true that part of the lobbying by the banks and their supporters was about the scandal of payment protection insurance, the brutal truth is that some of the best known banks are still effectively refusing to deal with genuine complaints and passing them straight on to Fos, with the deception that the matter had exhausted the internal complaint system.

Part of their complaint, too, is the rise of unscrupulous complaints managements firms. But the remedy is quite simple: if banks were to treat their customers with the courtesy, transparency and honestly that is fundamental to good customer relations, there would be no cause for them to seek the assistance of complaints management firms.

Because of their arrogance the banks drive large numbers of people in to the hands of these legal, but morally dubious, firms. The banks must blame themselves.

Mr Wheatley’s departure is not likely to lead to any tears from the average financial adviser; he came in with a promise to shoot first then ask questions and so became a victim of his own ethical behaviour.