Monday 19 August 2019

Charlie Weston: 'A massive imbalance in favour of bankers means that this initiative looks doomed from the start'


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Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

IS the new Irish Banking Culture Board destined to fail before it gets going?

The signs are not good that the initiative that aims to do something about the rotten culture of Irish banks will succeed.

For starters, the make-up of its new 14-person board is a huge concern. Having a board with five bankers does not engender confidence. There are two board members with a consumer background, and a member each representing farmers and small businesses. There should be five consumer representatives.

The new board aims to act as an advocate for cultural change in the banking sector. Will the head of Ulster Bank and senior executives from AIB, Bank of Ireland, Permanent TSB, and KBC Bank really push through changes that will put customers head of the profit motive?

The genesis of the culture board comes from the tracker scandal.

That outrageous affair saw families lose their homes, with people overcharged by thousands of euro, prompting medical and mental issues for many.

And boy has it taken a lot to get this far. As the journalist who broke the tracker scandal story all of 10 years ago, I know all about banks' lies, evasions and denials.

So bankers are now going to examine their behaviour and make sure no such scandal happens again, now that they are funding a Banking Culture Board?

Not so fast. Thousands of tracker cases continue to be disputed by banks. AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB were questioned about these cases in the Oireachtas last week, and all declined to put their hands up.

Spare me the baloney about a new culture about to envelop the banks. If bankers are serious about improving how they treat customers they could start by honestly resolving all the tracker scandal cases. That would be a sign they are serious about improving their toxic culture.

They could move on to paying some corporate tax, and reducing mortgage rates. We could go on.

The new culture board for banks has all the makings of a PR spin machine.

Another whitewash from Mr Banker.

Irish Independent

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