January 16, 2015 / 2:57 PM / 6 years ago

UK banks tell nine trade groups they should merge

LONDON (Reuters) - Banks told nine trade associations in Britain on Friday they should merge into a single body to strengthen lobbying in Europe and slash membership costs.

A working group of banks that includes HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds said in a consultation paper there are too many trade groups, leading to duplication of lobbying and a lack of strategic direction.

Most financial rules in Britain are set by the European Union and the paper said several UK trade associations actively lobby policymakers in Brussels on similar issues.

“Many trade associations acknowledge that this lack of coordination undermines the strength of UK industry representation in Brussels,” the paper said.

Banks, who pay the bulk of membership fees for the nine trade associations now under scrutiny, want to trim costs wherever they can as they comply with more burdensome regulation aimed at avoiding a repeat of the 2007-09 financial crisis.

A single, federated trade association comprising an overall coordinating council would go a long way to effectively address current challenges, the paper said.

“It could help the industry rebuild trust amongst its customers,” the paper added.

Reuters this week reported banking trade groups including the British Bankers’ Association, the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Payments Council and the UK Cards Association could merge.

The consultation paper sets out an “imperative for change”, making it clear the banks have little interest in two other options, namely improving coordination and merging bodies representing similar products like home loans or cards.

There are over 30 trade associations in the fragmented landscape, with nine of “direct relevance” to the consultation which ends in April with a final recommendation due in May.

The nine are: Asset based Finance Association, British Bankers’ Association, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Finance and Leasing Association, Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, Tax Incentivised Savings and Investment Association, Wealth Management Association, Payments Council and the UK Cards Association.

The CSFI think-tank has estimated banks spend upwards of 50 million pounds on the top 10 trade associations alone. About 60 percent of UK Payments Council members are members of the BBA and some 60 percent of UKCA members are also members of the Payments Council.

Editing by David Evans

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