TEXT-Fitch on Northern Rock Asset Management redress

Wed Dec 12, 2012 9:50am EST

Dec 12 - The refund on interest payments for some Northern Rock Asset
Management (NRAM) customers highlights rising conduct risks and associated costs
for UK retail banks, Fitch Ratings says. As the regulatory focus on business
conduct intensifies, expenses to ensure consistent adherence to higher
compliance and governance standards and provisions for litigation and customer
redress are likely to maintain pressure on bank profitability.

The GBP270m NRAM refund highlights the risk of not responding effectively to
legislative change. The bank did not correctly implement requirements under the
Consumer Credit Act in 2008 that account statements and letters include
mandatory wording and information about the amount of credit.

We expect banks to strengthen systems, controls and governance to minimise
conduct risks, especially as the Financial Services Authority splits under the
"twin peaks" regime into the Prudential Regulatory Authority and the Financial
Conduct Authority in 2013.

Customer redress costs from mis-selling have been a consistent feature of UK
bank results since early 2011. Provisions to redress payment protection
insurance (PPI) have been significant, totalling over GBP12bn for the industry
at end-Q312, and could to rise further.

Provisions for redress of interest rate hedging products to small- and
medium-sized businesses have emerged during 2012. Although there are fewer
potential cases than for PPI mis-selling, provisions for interest rate products
redress could also spike if the remediation exercise gains momentum.

The LIBOR-fixing scandal that emerged in the summer of 2012 is another
indication of the scrutiny banks face in the current environment and that
conduct risk may emerge from a number of sources that have yet to be identified.

The above article originally appeared as a post on the Fitch Wire credit market
commentary page. The original article can be accessed at www.fitchratings.com.
All opinions expressed are those of Fitch Ratings.
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