Mark Carney has defended the Bank of England’s handling of Charlotte Hogg’s resignation during a speech on banking ethics.
He said the former deputy governor made a serious but “honest mistake” and that the Bank would learn from the affair. But he also warned against an overly punitive approach to misconduct in the banking industry, saying it could leave “senior managers running scared”.
Ms Hogg quit earlier in March over a conflict of interest. She had failed to mention, before her appointment, that her brother was a senior executive at Barclays – a lender regulated by the Bank of England.
In the speech, Mr Carney said: “A series of scandals ranging from mis-selling to manipulation have undermined trust in banking, the financial system, and, to some degree, markets themselves. He added: “The economic consequences have been enormous. Global banks’ misconduct costs have now reached over $320bn (£257m) – capital that could otherwise have supported up to $5tn of lending to households and businesses.” He said the financial system needed “stronger deterrents”. However, he also urged more focus on creating a better banking culture.
This included reducing opportunities for bad behaviour and requiring compensation rules “that align better risk and reward”. He also suggested there had been an “excessive reliance” on “punitive” fines of firms who misbehaved. “We have emphasised measures to ensure firms and their employees take responsibility – individually and collectively – for their own conduct,” he said.
On Ms Hogg’s appointment, Mr Carney said he had been clear upfront that there should be consequences for both her and the Bank. However, he called her omission an “honest mistake that was freely and transparently admitted” and “not a firing offence”. He said he respected the Treasury Committee’s decision to publish a highly critical report on Ms Hogg, as well as her decision to resign. But he said the affair illustrated his wider point about regulation.
“We must not let recent events inadvertently tighten perceived standards for the industry because that could have senior managers running scared, drive compliance underground and undermine our collective objectives. “Another risk, flagged by some, is that it will also become harder to find candidates of sufficient calibre willing to take on senior roles.”