Jones to be named as new voice of UK banking

(c) Sky News 2017: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/jones-to-be-named-as-new-voice-of-uk-banking-10848666">Jones to be named as new voice of UK banking</a>
 

A former Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) and Santander executive will be unveiled as the new voice of the UK banking sector on Monday with a mandate to rebuild trust in the still-embattled industry.

Sky News has learnt that Stephen Jones will be named as the inaugural chief executive of UK Finance, a new trade association that is poised to become one of Britain's most powerful lobbying groups.

Mr Jones emerged as a candidate for the post last week, and senior banking sources said on Sunday night that he had been the clear frontrunner in the top ranks of the new organisation's members.

UK Finance, which will become operational in the summer, will absorb the British Bankers' Association (BBA), Council of Mortgage Lenders, UK Cards Association and three other bodies.

It will play a crucial role in representing parts of one of the UK's biggest industries during negotiations between the Government and Europe over the terms on which Britain leaves the EU.

Sources said that Mr Jones would also be given a licence to tackle other major issues for the banking sector, such as the pace of innovation shaping consumer behaviour, customer service and the rebuilding of trust a decade after the financial crisis erupted.

They added that he would seek to promote the interests not only of its biggest members - major high street lenders like Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group - but also the wider firmament of payment utilities, credit card providers and challenger banks.

Mr Jones will step down as a senior adviser to Cerberus Capital Management, the investment firm that bought a £13bn portfolio of Northern Rock mortgages two years ago.

The likelihood of an external candidate landing the top job at UK Finance increased last week when Anthony Browne, the BBA chief executive, confirmed that he would leave later this year.

City figures regard the role of UK Finance as being especially important with Brexit looming in 2019.

There remains significant uncertainty about the scope of new trade arrangements between Britain and the European Union, the nature of which will have a profound effect on the UK banking sector.

Mr Browne's resignation came five years after he joined the BBA in the midst of an unfolding crisis over the Libor rate-rigging scandal, which sparked calls for the body's abolition.

The BBA, which was responsible for administering the scandal-hit benchmark interest rate, saw its revenues plunge in the wake of the Libor affair.

UK Finance is to be chaired by Bob Wigley, a former member of the Court of the Bank of England.

A review led by Ed Richards, the former boss of media regulator Ofcom, concluded last year that banking industry bodies should merge in order to reduce costs and create a more effective dialogue with policymakers.

The BBA will remain in existence, but only as a legacy body responsible for dealing with a series of class action lawsuits over the Libor rate-rigging scandal.

Although there are likely to be some cost savings from the amalgamation of the six trade associations, sources close to UK Finance said it would continue to carry out all of the work currently undertaken by the separate organisations.

Mr Jones could not be reached for comment.

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