Finance chief in collapse warning to banks

Society needs assurances from British banks that a financial collapse will never happen again, the chairman of the City regulator has warned. Lord Adair Turner, the chairman of the Financial Services Authority, said there was more regulation ahead.

City analysts are expecting Britain's top four banks to unveil a 13 per cent or 2.5bn jump in their combined profits to 24bn in a sign that the sector is on the mend.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Lord Turner said that threats that London's banks would move to Singapore or Hong Kong because of over-regulation in the UK were a "fantasy".

He said: "I think the idea that people are going to go off to Hong Kong or Singapore or Brazil to escape our capital and liquidity regimes is a complete fantasy.

"I think the industry needs to recognise that society wants to be assured that measures that have been taken are robust enough to prevent this terrible crisis ever happening again."

Lord Turner called for a push for more regulation in the so-called shadow banking sector – such as investment banks and hedge funds – after fears were raised over banks' more risky activities.

Pressure on the banking sector continues to rise as senior politicians call for restraint on bonuses and a Government-commissioned inquiry said moves to split retail and investment banking operations were being considered. Analysts at investment bank Nomura forecast a strong improvement in British banks' performance compared with 2009.

Barclays and HSBC are expected to have made more than 15bn between them, while Lloyds, which is 41 per cent owned by the taxpayer, is expected to announce profits of about 1bn.

Last week Sir John Vickers, chairman of the Independent Commission on Banking, said big players should be forced to set aside even more capital for emergencies.

The chairman also flagged potential plans to ring-fence high street deposit-taking operations from investment banking business – seen as being more risky.

Barclays will kick off the reporting season on February 15, followed by Standard Chartered on February 22, RBS on February 24, Lloyds on February 25 and HSBC on February 28.

It has been reported that Michael Sherwood, the joint head of banking giant Goldman Sachs in London, was awarded a 9m bonus.

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