(Clarifies who BBA wants to increase accountability for, para 8)
* FICC traders would be required to hold qualification
* BBA also backs extension of accountability regime
* BBA says review a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity
By Steve Slater and Matt Scuffham
LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Thousands of bond, currency and commodities traders in London should have to pass an exam and obtain a new qualification to trade as part of attempts to raise standards, Britain’s bank lobby group said on Wednesday.
The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) said a “licence to trade” qualification and tougher codes of conduct should be introduced to strengthen trust in financial markets after a series of damaging scandals.
The BBA said everyone involved in FICC (fixed income, currencies and commodities) markets should be required to pass exams and be professionally qualified, although the qualification wouldn’t need to be the same for all markets.
“This is a once in a generation chance to clean up financial markets -- we must seize it,” BBA Chairman Anthony Browne said in the group’s response to the Bank of England and UK government’s Fair and Effective Market Review.
The government initiated a review of how to clean up the industry after Britain’s banks were caught up in a series of trading scandals.
Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group have been fined for the attempted manipulation of the Libor financial benchmark, while HSBC and RBS were fined for failing to stop traders from manipulating the foreign exchange market.
“Restoring trust to financial markets is hugely important to the banking industry in the UK,” said Browne.
The BBA said proposals to increase individual accountability for senior managers should be extended to include all market participants, excluding those in retail banking.
Bank of England Deputy Governor Minouche Shafik has said tougher rules may be needed to stop the “anything goes” attitude of traders uncovered in recent investigations. .
Shafik said last month the review would look at how to give teeth to industry codes of conduct, such as by making them mandatory.
“We are trying to get at the individuals,” Shafik said, as regulators seek to meet criticism from lawmakers that too few bankers, rather than firms, have been brought to book for reckless behaviour in the run up to the financial crisis.
The review is due to make recommendations in June and likely to focus on bolstering codes, as much of the legislative work is already in the pipeline at the European Union level.
The public consultation on the review closed last Friday. (Additional reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Mark Potter)