(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

The recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards are important step toward making the UK banking sector more sustainable.

The PCBS report recommends sweeping changes in the way that bankers are regulated, rewarded, the way they operate, and the way they deal with criticism.

These changes include both the velvet glove of culture change as well as the iron fist of changes to regulations, rewards and punishment.

If adopted, these recommendations will represent a significant change for UK banks.

Significant Change

They would become simpler, more conservative and more sustainable institutions, with an eye on longer term benefits rather than short term risks. In order to achieve this, they would need to significantly change their business models to move them out of risky and lucrative markets.

While this is has the upside of making banks safer, it is also likely mean they will have lower rates of returns. This means that the days of hyper-profitable banks are probably long gone.

Perhaps the most striking implication for banks is that they would no longer have safety net of a government bailout. This is likely to make the banks more risk averse.

The changes would have big implications for customers as well.

They would no longer be subject to pushy sales techniques from their banks. The service is likely to become more professional and more cautious. The days of clueless 'call centre banking' might be numbered.

Greater Oversight

The report also recommends greater oversight of the so-called 'shadow banking sector'. This will mean alternatives like peer to peer lending might come under the purview of the regulator.

The longer term outcomes of these recommendations are likely to be more sustainable, safer, but less profitable sector. One unintended consequence may be the continued concentration of the business into the larger banks.

It will also likely lead to important changes to the banking profession. Instead of being an occupation filled with risk addicts, we are likely to see a more thoughtful and prudent character take hold.

But perhaps the biggest change is what society expect from banks. Instead of seeing them as cynical, self-serving institutions, the public will once again expect banks to more prudent institutions that cautiously allocate capital to productive use.

This would represent a return to the basics of banking.

What remains uncertain is exactly how much will and commitment there is to implementing this report. Among the politicians this will require genuine courage and vision. Among the banks, it will require attention and focus on delivering these changes over a longer time period.

For the bankers, it will require a willingness to change how they think about their job and themselves in quite significant ways.

Professor Andre Spicer works at Cass Business School and specialises in Organisational Behaviour. He is also the author of several books, including 'Contesting the Corporation' and 'Unmasking the Entrepreneur.'