Banks join forces to treat customers better

A new independent body is to be launched with the aim of driving up standards in the banking industry.

The Banking Standards Review Council (BSRC) is to be introduced following the recommendations of Sir Richard Lambert who has been investigating what can be done to improve the industry's battered image.

Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, RBS, Santander and Standard Chartered have agreed to join the group, and follow a code of conduct that will include putting customers first.

The BSRC will also publish an annual report on the progress of the sector and the individual banks that have signed up to the council.

Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, will head a panel to find a chairman of the new body, which will have no powers to penalise banks that are found to be failing.

Lambert, who will take on the roll of chairman until a permanent one is appointed, said: "It is essential that work gets underway immediately and the current momentum on setting up the new BSRC is maintained, in order to demonstrate to the public that the industry is fully committed to this initiative."

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Change of culture

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? group chief executive, welcomed the move and urged other institutions to sign up "without delay".

He said: "After years of successive scandals, consumer trust in the banking industry remains appallingly low, despite the flurry of new rules and legislation.

"A big change in the culture of banking is required so that customers, not bankers, are put first. So we welcome Sir Richard Lambert's proposals for a code of conduct monitored by an independent and transparent body to help drive up professional standards across the industry."

Moneywise will unveil the winners of its 2014 Customer Service Awards on 12 June, including Most Trusted Mainstream Bank and Most Trusted Current Account Provider.

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