Starting Monday, senior managers of banks in the United Kingdom would have to spell out responsibilities of each top manager along with how their powers intersect, as U.K.’s banking regulators toughen their stance towards fiscal mismanagement of banks' assets by senior employees. The regulations will come into effect along with another reform that makes reckless management of a bank leading to its failure a criminal offence.
The Senior Managers and Certification Regime will look to establish direct accountability among senior managers of financial services like banks, lenders and investment firms for any wrong doing that happens under their watch. The legislation was introduced in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, after authorities struggled to prosecute individuals who led their firms into taxpayer-funded bailouts as their responsibilities weren’t clearly defined.
“This gives some certainty and should result in more effective governance and monitoring of the way the firm manages its employees,” Michael Potts, managing partner of London law firm Byrne and Partners, told Bloomberg.
However, authorities said the process would not transform the financial industry overnight. According to Mark Garnier, a Conservative Party lawmaker on the U.K. Parliament’s Treasury Committee, “there won’t be an overnight change, but hopefully it will signify an end to bad behavior.”
Louise Hodges, criminal litigation partner at Kingsley Napley in London, told Bloomberg that the new legislation was a “paper tiger.” While “it may give senior officers pause for thought and emphasize their personal accountability in the decisions they make, I can’t see many bankers being jailed as a result,” he said.
Meanwhile, London’s banks have provided city regulators with individual statements of responsibility for every one of their senior managers, detailing their personal accountabilities, last month. However, a third of these forms were rejected because of "technical errors,” according to legal news website Out-law.com.
In February, U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority said algorithmic and high-frequency traders would also be subject to the new rules to make it easier for regulators to hold them personally accountable for failures.
Financial agencies also have raised concerns that the new measures, which require bankers to be certified as "fit and proper" by their senior managers every year could discourage people from working in financial services, damaging London’s standing as a financial center.
“Individuals identified as senior managers will be rightly alarmed by the rigidity in this framework,” Potts told Bloomberg.