Chartered Management Institute: In My Opinion

By Mullen, Ian | Management Today, August 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Chartered Management Institute: In My Opinion


Mullen, Ian, Management Today


Chartered Management Institute Companion Ian Mullen argues that businesses must co-operate to lead the international regulatory agenda.

The growth of financial services since 1992 has been more than double the rate of the UK economy as a whole. Productivity in the sector has grown more than three times that of the economy too. And it will account for an increasing share of the economy and GDP growth - providing the regulatory and tax environment does not deteriorate. One of the key challenges for leaders in the sector is to shape the agenda to ensure its successful future.

As CEO of the British Bankers' Association (BBA), I am one of the principal industry spokesmen on public policy for the UK banking sector. But the British industry does not operate in isolation. The City of London has a large foreign banking presence, so many of our members belong to banking associations around the world.

This obviously shapes our work. In particular, the needs of EU-based members are vital.

Directives from Brussels drive much of the domestic financial law and regulation in EU states - so major European banks are acutely interested in ensuring that the UK regulatory environment remains optimal.

In my opinion, the industry will represent itself most effectively through a consensus view. In such a complex stakeholder environment, one quickly sees the need for a co-ordinating industry body at EU level. This role is played by the European Banking Federation (EBF).

Representing banking associations from the EU countries plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, the federation brings together the national associations' chief executives every month to oversee crucial policy work.

The key to success - indeed relevance - is the preference of the European Commission and European Parliament to listen to a pan-European industry voice rather than the special pleading of a sovereign state, bank or banking association.

Whereas continental Europe tends to be 'policy optimistic', the UK generally favours a 'market optimistic' approach.

So to advance the UK position effectively, we must attain thought leadership on the various issues under deliberation. This requires the input of experts from both industry and government - principally the Treasury - working in harmony.

It also demands firm negotiation. One of my most challenging tasks as chair of the EBF's executive committee has been to integrate the banking associations of the 10 new EU accession countries. Maintaining the federation's record of accomplishments when a consensus among 28 is needed will require expertise, understanding, planning and implementation.

Of course, we have to recognise where the EU agenda stems from: the legislative and regulatory environment for financial services is determined by a complex interaction of national, regional and international processes, with numerous stakeholders playing active roles. …

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