Banks to oppose Walker?s governance reforms

Author: By Richard Northedge

Sir David, asked by the Treasury in February to produce a review, will publish
a consultative document on Thursday calling for bank directors to have
greater skills, more experience and demonstrable independence.

He wants to see improvements in board-level risk management and wants
shareholders to be stronger when it comes to restraining banks. He will also
say pay policy must incentivise directors to manage risk effectively.

However, Liz Murrall of the Investment Management Association, says: “It
is important the Walker Review does not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach
to all financial institutions and understands the different types of risk
different institutions pose.”

She has written to Sir David admitting there were failings in banks’
governance but saying: “These failings did not cause the crisis, nor
would changes in corporate governance have prevented it.”

Banks could be forced offshore by tough rules, she warns.

The Building Societies Association is also worried at proposals for
non-executive directors to all have banking experience. Brian Morris, head
of savings policy, says: “Expectations of what can be achieved by
corporate governance need to be realistic. It is not a panacea.”

David Phillips, senior corporate reporting partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers,
has asked Sir David to make banks explain in annual reports the suitability
of each of their non-executive directors.

Sir David, who is currently a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley, will produce a
final report in the autumn.

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