What can our banks learn from the USA?

Jay Owen Reforming Global Finance

I thought I’d escaped the City years ago when I quit my job as an investment banker. But today I’m back where I started out, addressing hundreds of people at the Chartered Accountants’ Hall.

This isn’t any ordinary financial conference. Today, hundreds of people from across civil society are gathering to discuss how we can transform our finance system so that it delivers for people and planet. I’ll be on stage throughout the day and I wanted to give you a sneak preview of what I’ll be saying.

The graphic above shows a startling fact that too few are aware of. The UK banking system is unique in having virtually no local or regional banksbanks that are focused on operating in and lending to the people and businesses in a specific area. We used to have them in Britain, but over the last few decades they disappeared; the quest for short term profits and efficiencies drove mergers to create bigger and bigger banks.

Now our research shows that losing local banks we lost more than just local branches and customer relationships. We lost banks that lend the most to small businesses and those in financial difficulty. We undermined the stability of our financial system and the health of our economy. Other countries with more diverse banking systems like Germany and Japan have fared better as a result.

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Transforming finance is too important to leave to politicians or those in the City. It’s time ordinary citizens took part in the debate too. Please share this graphic with your friends and family, it’s time we got the banking system we deserved.

Tony Greenham
Head of Finance and Business

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