Why it’s time for change at the British Bankers Association

Having been forced to see sense, the BBA has dropped its attempts to defend the indefensible, the mass mis-selling of payment protection insurance. But it has been forced into that decision after one of its biggest members, Lloyds Banking Group, unilaterally decided to declare a fair cop and pay compensation. That was last week and Lloyds has now been followed by Barclays, HSBC and RBS. When your own members pull the rug from under you that’s a pretty clear sign all is not well between a trade association and its members. The machinations of an industry’s trade body would not normally deserve much attention. But as the country’s leading industry, it’s odd that banking doesn’t have a more effective trade body. And as the country’s richest and most powerful industry it ought to have a trade body of equivalent influence. Ultimately it’s a matter of shareholder value because the industry’s mishandling of its own political and regulatory relationships has contributed to a regime that has become materially less friendly towards banks than our main competitors, the US and Europe. The BBA’s credibility is also called into question over its involvement with the setting of Libor, a key market interest rate which is currently under regulatory scrutiny.