Sunday 19 November 2017

Karl Deeter: Plainly, we must speak to banks in language they understand and make them pay price

'Banks are as big a cost to this country as many aspects of public health, we spent more bailing out banks than we did on curing cancer in the last eight years.' (Stock image)
'Banks are as big a cost to this country as many aspects of public health, we spent more bailing out banks than we did on curing cancer in the last eight years.' (Stock image)

Karl Deeter

We need to speak to banks in the language they understand, not the language they 'tell us' they understand, but the actual language they speak. That language is the language of money.

The ongoing tracker scandal doesn't cover many of the mortgage holders who lost trackers - many banks took them away from landlords as a part of granting them longer interest-only periods and with some of the biggest institutions these borrowers aren't covered.

While some may have a hard time feeling pity for landlords, I would remind them that you can't delight in their financial pain then scratch your head when they jack up rents and squeeze tenants for all they can in order to pay the new higher cost of lending.

Banks are as big a cost to this country as many aspects of public health, we spent more bailing out banks than we did on curing cancer in the last eight years.

For that reason it would be prudent, in light of outcomes, to ask politicians to enact legislation which would stop banks from being allowed to advertise, in particular being able to advertise mortgages.

The absence of independent financial advice is part of why this problem exists. It was brokers who brought trackers into Ireland, it has been brokers who have fought and won many of the cases against banks on tracker issues prior to the scandal becoming public. If banks were unable to offer advice on mortgages any more it would ensure that people could do their own research and apply to their call centres, or go for independent financial advice. Allowing banks to sell to people with low financial literacy 'in house' is letting them shoot consumer-fish in a banker-barrel.

We have done this kind of thing on matters of health before, a recent example being that cigarette packaging was made plain and tobacco companies are not allowed to sponsor sporting events and the like. The right to influence the public carries a corresponding responsibility. The other thing would be to give new entrants tax-free profits on all of their lending for the next 10 years (perhaps as long as it is on mortgage rates below 2.7pc) that would give new entrants the confidence to do business here. We did something like this in the 70s when we coaxed banks into mortgage lending because the building societies kept running out of money.

This would mean indigenous banks would have to drop their rates to stay in the game. They are loath to do this but again, we need to speak to them in the language they understand, that time has passed.

Charlie Weston is away.

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