Review backs merger of FS trade associations

A bank-commissioned review has recommended merging five financial trade associations – including the BBA and Payments UK – into one group representing the industry in the UK.

The Financial Services Trade Associations Review said that a “world-class trade association” should be formed by bringing together the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Payments UK, the UK Cards Association, and the Asset Based Finance Association.

The review also suggested that the new super group should forge close relationships with two other ‘in scope’ organisations – UK Payments Administration and Financial Fraud Action UK. It should also look at co-operating with the Building Societies’ Association and the Finance & Leasing Association, the report added.

Ed Richards, who led the Financial Services Trade Associations Review, explained: “There are real benefits from creating a more unified body to speak for this crucial area of the economy. A new trade association would be able to represent the industry more effectively because its voice would carry greater weight. Having a single point of contact will also be welcomed by policymakers and will reduce duplication of effort.

“However, it’s important that the new association is organised along devolved lines,” he continued. “We need to make sure specialist expertise is preserved and a diverse membership is properly represented, while still gaining the advantages from having a bigger organisation.”

Other ideas aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the new body were proposals for specialist committees to address digital innovation, new entrants and new technologies in finance, and a committee for the nations and regions to ensure that those based outside London are strongly represented.

The review also recommended setting up two advisory groups to represent the views of consumers and SMEs to the trade association. They would be consulted when policies were being developed and meet with the main board once a year.

The proposed governance structure for the new organisation would comprise a main board with an independent chairman, and below that sector boards with principal responsibility for specific areas. The aim would be to build on the strengths of the existing trade associations by bringing together their technical and practitioner experts.

The final recommendations have been drawn up following an open process which included consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. The review was set in motion a year ago by 11 of the UK’s biggest banks and biggest building societies.

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