Economy

Britain must not damage financial sector resilience, says BoE’s Woods


FILE PHOTO: Deputy Governor for Prudential Regulation Sam Woods, attends a press conference after issuing The Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability Report in London, Britain July 12, 2023. REUTERS/Anna Gordon/Pool/File Photo

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Easing rules to boost the post-Brexit global competitiveness of Britain’s financial sector can only be done while maintaining a resilient financial system, Bank of England Deputy Governor Sam Woods said on Tuesday.

The Bank of England was given a new secondary objective in August to facilitate medium to long-term international competitiveness and growth, subject to aligning with global regulatory standards.

With Britain no longer required to apply European Union financial rules, the banking sector hopes the new objective, also given to the Financial Conduct Authority, will put pressure on regulators to cut “red tape” and think twice before issuing new rules.

But, the banking industry is worried that regulators will find way to obfuscate how they are complying with the new objective as Woods sought to manage expectations.

“The foundation of growth and competitiveness is having a stable and resilient financial system,” Woods told CNBC television.

“We have spent the last decade building that here in the UK. We have tripled the amount of capital in the banking system,” Woods said.

“It’s only if you maintain those foundations that you can then go on to the other things like efficiencies, removing bureaucracy and being in favour of innovation,” Woods said, citing plans to cut reporting requirements for insurers by a third.

Regulators caution that many factors which affect the City’s global competitiveness, including tax and ability to import talent, are beyond their control.

The BoE must report within a year on how it thinks it is meeting the new objective, which is subordinate to its main task of keeping banks and insurers safe and sound.

The BoE held a conference on Tuesday to discuss its ideas for implementing the new objective ahead of a public consultation in the autumn.

BoE Executive Director for Prudential Policy Victoria Saporta told the conference that the link between conceivable measures of competitiveness of a global financial centre and capital rules for banks is not very well understood.

“Put differently, there is no off-the-shelf consensus on how a prudential regulator can carry out this new objective, let alone be held accountable for it,” Saporta said.

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