Stephen Jones, CEO, UK Finance
As we enter the Spring of 2018 in very wintry conditions, it is proving to be a no less challenging time across the political and financial landscape. While Brexit continues to dominate much of the domestic agenda, our work at UK Finance has also been focused on the commercial banking, payments, cards and personal finance as well as the economic crime space.
Putting customers’ interests first
Following the collapse of Carillion, UK Finance was asked to represent the industry in the government-led Carillion taskforce, chaired by Secretary of State for Business the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP. I am pleased to report that because of swift co-ordination with members we have been able to provide an unprecedented response to support business, SME and Personal customers, and Ministers have praised the industry for its proactive response.
In January we established the UK Finance SME Advisory Group, bringing business groups and industry together to work on business customers’ issues directly and giving them a voice within UK Finance. This group is chaired by Teresa Graham CBE. Teresa has worked in the SME sector for many years, most recently serving as Non-Executive Director at the British Business Bank, and comes with excellent credentials to deliver on the objectives set.
Fighting fraud and cyber crime
As part of our commitment to reduce fraud, UK Finance joined up with the Home Office and partners across the country in mid-January to deliver the first Take Five to Stop Fraud Week. The campaign focused on protecting the public from fraudsters and has been a huge success. It has gained wide media coverage across broadcast, print and digital media, and we continue to work with members to raise awareness of fraud. This is being achieved by consistently adopting Take Five messaging across the industry.
Our programme of work has seen us actively involved in many top-table discussions and projects around the launch of Open Banking and UK Finance has produced an FAQ document to help consumers understand the benefits. We will keep a watchful eye on opportunities to coordinate customer messaging although we recognise – along with the FCA and other parts of the industry – that changes may well take time to develop.
As the second phase of Brexit negotiations continue to evolve, we are engaging with policy makers, regulators and other stakeholders across the UK, Brussels, European capitals and the rest of the world. The transposition of EU law into UK law as part of the European (Withdrawal) Bill is one of the largest legislative projects ever undertaken and will be a significant part of our work plan for 2018 as the situation evolves.
Events and training that deliver and reward
Later this month, we will be launching UK Finance’s Conduct Risk and Culture Academy; with cohorts for Personal and Wholesale banking, commencing in March and April respectively. Designed as a hands-on programme, attendees will directly address the conduct and risk challenges faced by regulated firms and will explore practical and effective solutions by combining industry best-practice with leading insight and practitioner expertise. It’s an exciting new venture and we look forward to welcoming members to join us at future events.
Thought leadership, expertise and integrity
The housing debate continues to rightly dominate the political agenda, and I am pleased to announce that UK Finance has recently appointed Miguel Sard as Chair of the Mortgages Product and Service Board (PSB), which brings together senior industry figures to discuss key issues facing the sector. Miguel is the Managing Director of Mortgages at Santander and we are fortunate to welcome him to the Mortgage PSB. It faces a packed agenda this year, including the Government’s Housing Strategy and the response to the FCA Market Study.
At UK Finance we believe that a balanced and diverse workforce helps create a fairer and more inclusive working environment. We are already committed to the HM Treasury Women in Finance charter, and have just recently been accredited as a Living Wage Employer, demonstrating some of the important work taking place in this area.
I look forward to sharing further insights with you in the coming months and welcoming you at one of the many events planned.