Bankers: Call For 'Oath' To Stop More Scandals

A think tank believes bankers should be expected to swear an oath in which they promise to behave properly, in the same way as doctors.

ResPublica has drawn up a statement that it says people who work at major financial institutions should agree to adhere to.

The oath includes a promise to "prioritise the needs of customers", to "provide a quality of service" and to "confront impropriety".

The call for a code of ethics comes after a series of scandals such as the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, Libor rate rigging, mis-selling of interest swaps to small businesses and even money laundering.

ResPublica's full report, Virtuous Banking: Placing ethos and purpose at the heart of banking, is being launched by the chairman of the Banking Standards Review Council, Sir Richard Lambert.

The think tank says it would be up to banking's trade bodies, the British Bankers' Association (BBA), the Building Societies Association and the new Banking Standards Review Council to get the oath adopted and rolled out.

ResPublica director Phillip Blond said: "As countless scandals demonstrate, virtue is distinctly absent from our banking institutions.

"Britain's bankers lack a sense of ethos and the institutions they work for lack a clearly defined social purpose.

"The bankers' oath represents a remarkable opportunity to fulfil their proper moral and economic purpose, and finally place bankers on the road to absolution."

The Hippocratic Oath of doctors, on which the bankers' oath is based, dates back 2,500 years to Greek medical pioneer Hippocrates.

All doctors are required to make it before they can practise. If they are found to have broken the oath, they can face consequences.

Banks in Britain employ just under 440,000 staff, equivalent to around 1.4% of the UK workforce.

BBA executive director for financial policy and operations Paul Chisnall said: "Restoring trust and confidence is the banking industry's number one priority."

He accepted that a wide-ranging banking oath "very well could be part of the answer".

As part of an ongoing probe into Libor interest rate fixing, Lloyds Banking Group has been fined £218m by UK and US authorities.