New rules have been proposed by The Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority to improve professional standards and culture in the UK banking industry.
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the FCA said the proposals announced this morning were significant and will make it easier for firms and regulators to hold individuals to account.
He said: "How a firm conducts its business and treats its customers must be at the heart of how it operates.
"This has to start at the top. Today's consultations mark a fundamental change in the regulators' ability to hold individuals to account, which is what the public expects of us.
"It will also build on the cultural change we are beginning to see in the boardrooms of firms across the country."
Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the PRA, said: "Holding individuals to account is a key component of our job as regulators of banks.
"The combination of clearer individual responsibilities and enhanced risk management incentives will encourage individuals in banks to take greater responsibility for their actions.
"We believe that enhancing individual accountability and improving the alignment of risk and reward should have a positive impact on behaviour and culture within banks and will help to ensure that they are managed in a way that promotes the safety and soundness of individual institutions."
Proposed changes include:
· A new approval regime for the most senior individuals whose behaviour and decisions have the potential to bring a bank to failure, or to cause serious harm to customers; and
· New rules on remuneration to strengthen the alignment between long-term risk and reward in the banking sector.
· A new Senior Managers Regime which will clarify the lines of responsibility at the top of banks, enhance the regulators' ability to hold senior individuals in banks to account and require banks to regularly vet their senior managers for fitness and propriety;
· A Certification Regime requiring firms to assess fitness and propriety of staff in positions where the decisions they make who could pose significant harm to the bank or any of its customers; and
· A new set of Conduct Rules, which take the form of brief statements of high level principle, setting out the standards of behaviour for bank employees.
• Increasing the alignment between risk and reward over the longer term, by requiring firms to defer payment of variable remuneration (e.g. bonuses) for a minimum of five or seven years depending on seniority, with a phased approach to vesting.
• Further enhancing the ability of firms to recover variable remuneration, even if paid out or vested, from senior management if risk management or conduct failings come to light at a later date.
A consultation has been launched on the new rules today.