Skeoch to deliver verdict on post-crisis bank ring-fencing regime

January 17, 2022

A former chief executive of Standard Life will this week deliver his verdict on the ring-fencing structure that saddled Britain's biggest banks with billions of pounds of additional costs in a bid to shield taxpayers during future financial crises.

Sky News has learnt that Keith Skeoch, who was appointed by the Treasury in late 2020 to review the UK's ring-fencing and proprietary trading regimes, will unveil his preliminary findings on Tuesday.

They will be closely watched by major lenders such as Barclays, HSBC Holdings and NatWest Group, each of which was forced to establish separate ring-fenced and non-ring-fenced entities following an inquiry led by the academic Sir John Vickers in 2011.

Legislation implementing the changes came into force in 2019, and obliged banks to erect 'firewalls' between their deposit-taking retail arms and their riskier investment banking divisions.

The new rules applied to any bank with a core deposit base of more than £25bn, a threshold which also caught the likes of Lloyds Banking Group and Santander UK.

Despite lobbying from the industry to water down or dismantle the ring-fencing regime, Mr Skeoch and a panel of reviewers are not expected to recommend wholesale changes to it in the short term.

However, one industry executive said they had been told that further changes to the UK's bank resolution framework were likely, along with a possible raising of the £25bn threshold.

The latter change would be of particular benefit to banks such as Goldman Sachs' retail arm, Marcus, which has grown rapidly in the UK since its launch.

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One banker said that Mr Skeoch's initial conclusions to be published on Tuesday were likely to be followed by a more detailed set of recommendations to the Treasury as early as the end of next month.

The Treasury declined to comment, while Mr Skeoch did not return a call seeking comment.

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