BBA backs merger plan

The British Bankers Association (BBA) has backed a plan to merge four of the UK's financial services lobby groups into one industry body.

The planned merger will see the BBA join forces with the UK Cards Association, Payments UK and the Council of UK Mortgage Lenders to form one single body or super-lobby group.

Backers of the plan argue that the merger will save millions of pounds in administration and membership fees as well as addressing bankers' complaints that multiple trade bodies leads to a duplication of lobbying efforts.

The BBA, the largest of the four lobby groups, has endured a torrid time of late. Following the fallout from the Libor rigging scandal, the BBA was stripped of its responsibility for overseeing the administration of the benchmark,a move that not only tarnished its reputation but also reduced its income and raised fees for member banks.

A blueprint for the new body has been drawn up by Ed Richards, the former head of media regulator Ofcom, which proposes taking out a loan of £15.5m for the implementation of the new body which he forecasts will be repayable within three years as a result of the expected cost savings.

Although the plan received almost unanimous backing from BBA members (94%), it has not convinced all lobby groups in the UK's financial services sector. The Building Societies Association, which shares some members with the BBA, voted against the plan because it did not cater enough for the building society sector.  

"The building society sector is truly distinct from the banking sector, this includes corporate structure, legislative status and in some areas it is subject to additional layers of regulatory guidance," said the BSA.