The Vickers Report, published in September 2011 will have a profound impact on UK banking. Written at the request of the Treasury its contents show that the Government has two key concerns. Firstly, maximise the financial stability of UK banks by ring-fencing their domestic, retail and small and medium enterprise (SME) operations away from the more risky parts of the business. Secondly, stimulate greater competition between banks in those two sectors through a combination of greater price transparency and simplifying the process of moving bank accounts.
From past experience we expect the real challenge and risk to be in the implementation and operational details. We have seen before that imprecise or ambiguous definitions and statements can lead to multiple distinct interpretations by businesses and organisations. It is in our interest as providers of advice and solutions to seek clarity and resolution of such issues.
Since its publication the Vickers Report has generated an enormous amount of comment across the finance sector. Given the massive changes that it will bring to banks in the UK this is hardly surprising. However much of the comment is focused around whether the report has in fact achieved its aims. The Treasury has made it clear in both its initial response of 19th December 2011 and its white paper of June 2012 that it endorses the recommendations. While there are still issues to clarify, this does send out a very clear message: that these recommendations are for the most part, going to be implemented.
This white paper therefore is focused very much on the practical realities around implementation, particularly the operational and technological implications.