We are reviewing the business models used in the retail banking sector and evaluating the impact of changes on competition and conduct.
Retail banking has been experiencing significant economic, technological, social and regulatory changes. The effects of these changes are expected to continue in the coming years, with ‘lower for longer’ interest rates, Open Banking, increased use of digital channels by consumers, regulatory interventions such as ring-fencing, and the remedies introduced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Against this background, we have been considering what we need to do in order to build a robust evidence base to enhance our understanding of the state of competition and conduct in retail banking markets at a pivotal time of change.
We want to understand the impact of changes in retail banking business models and the implications for our objectives to protect consumers and promote effective competition, with the ultimate aim of ensuring our regulatory approach remains fit for purpose.
To achieve this, we will be conducting a strategic review of retail banking business models – a programme of discovery work to examine the business models used in the retail banking sector and evaluate the impact of changes on competition and conduct.
The review will seek to:
Phase 1 of our work will focus on achieving an enhanced understanding of existing retail banking business models and the economic markets they serve, from a supply side perspective. Specifically, we expect to:
In phase 2 we will seek to evaluate the impacts of changes in economic, technological, social and regulatory factors on retail banking business models, with a view to identifying any risks to our competition and conduct objectives.
We envisage that the review will encompass financial service providers including retail banks, building societies and credit unions. In view of the large share of the UK market served by the larger retail banking groups, we will inevitably place most focus on these firms, but we are also keen to draw from the experiences of other firms.
We expect to look across the retail banking balance sheet and to consider the full range of personal banking products/services and small/medium enterprise banking. For example, we want to understand profitability by product or service type. This may include current accounts, cash savings, mortgages, secured and unsecured lending, credit cards and general insurance distribution. As we progress our analysis we may choose to focus on specific areas in more detail.
Our review is fundamentally different from the CMA’s retail banking market investigation. The CMA’s market investigation focused on personal current accounts and small/medium enterprise banking. Our review will look across the retail banking balance sheet and consider other product areas such as savings and consumer lending. The focus of our review is broader than that of the CMA’s because we have a consumer protection objective as well as a competition objective.
However, while broader in its product coverage, we are not proposing to:
We will be conducting this work alongside other relevant work in the sector, in particular the work that we are undertaking in relation to prompts and alerts, service quality information and account opening and switching processes, as well as our high-cost short-term credit review. The review will inform and be informed by these other projects.
We plan to engage with relevant financial service providers (including retail banks, building societies, credit unions), as well as consumer bodies during May and June 2017, prior to issuing an information request to firms.
We expect to produce a project update in Q2 2018, explaining our preliminary analysis and conclusions from phase 1.