Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 16:52 UK

New bank rules issued by watchdog

Northern Rock branch
Northern Rock ran into funding problems in 2007

The UK financial watchdog has published new rules governing funding standards at banks and building societies.

The Financial Services Authority said banks should hold assets that were truly liquid, such as government bonds.

Firms would have to change their business models but would have several years to comply, the regulator said.

The British Bankers' Association (BBA) said it feared the rules would put the UK's attractiveness as a centre for international finance at risk.

The FSA first said it was reviewing liquidity requirements in 2007, after Northern Rock ran into problems when it could no longer fund its business.

"The precise amount of liquidity that each firm will need to hold will be refined over time to ensure that the combined impact of higher capital and liquidity standards is proportionate," the FSA said in a statement.

But it estimated the full introduction of the new regime would require banks to increase their collective holdings of government bonds by £110bn, or an annual cost of £2.2bn.

Banks will have to improve their controls and reporting standards from 1 December.

The watchdog added that it was the first major regulator to introduce tighter liquidity requirements.

"No other regulator has yet created such a far-reaching liquidity regime, yet we are constantly assured at global meetings of the G20 and others that effective change needs international consensus," said Simon Hills from the BBA.

"We cannot put at risk the attractiveness of the UK as a centre for international finance without also risking our chances of economic recovery."



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