ICB holds talks with US bankers

15 November 2010

Britain's Independent Commission on Banking (ICB) has held in-depth discussions with senior financial figures from both sides of the Atlantic on the issue of regulatory reform, it has been revealed.

The Daily Telegraph has reported that current Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke has met with the organisation, as has former Fed chief Paul Volcker and several leading officials from the European Union.

Mr Volcker caused some consternation in the US when he called for the country's banks to be banned from risky investments such as proprietary trading, which was passed into law by Congress earlier this year.

Financial sector observers are likely to be monitoring his progress with interest, as his UK visit could mean that similar legislation is a possibility in Britain. Mr Volcker is expected to hold further meetings across mainland Europe over the coming weeks.

The ICB is believed to be currently reviewing whether or not to suggest that financial firms sell off their wholesale banking operations in a pre-emptive bid to prevent a repeat of the 2008 crisis and the lengthy recession which followed.

Members of the British public will have an opportunity to air their opinions to the group this week in an event at Leeds University's business school, described by ICB panellist Clare Spottiswoode as "a critical part of the evidence gathering".

"We want to hear the views of the public - consumers, small businesses and taxpayers - on how to improve stability and competition in the banking sector," she told the Daily Mail.

Around 100 people are expected to participate in the debate, in which attendees will be given the chance to ask questions of a committee of financial industry insiders and experts.

Which? banking analyst Dominic Lindley told the newspaper that the UK's economic situation must not be allowed to deteriorate through lackadaisical regulation while the ICB considers its recommendations, expected to be delivered in September 2011.

By Gary Cooper

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