U.K. Enhances Capital Requirements in New Ringfencing Rules

By Brian Kesten

The Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority announced new rules last Thursday aimed at insulating deposits from the institutional risks of investment banking, which will go into effect in 2019. As a result, British institutions including Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and Santander UK – institutions with more than $38 billion in deposits – will be forced to carry roughly $5 billion more in capital reserves. In addition, the ringfenced portion of the institution will be staffed separately, and must be treated as a third party.

U.K. regulators did offer concessions to the banks, which will face heightened regulatory standards overall. The largest U.K. institutions will not be prohibited from transferring capital from the retail arm to other parts of the bank. In addition, Treasury officials withdrew their plans to enforce a “reversal of burden of proof,” which would have held senior managers accountable via fine or ban for violations under the manager’s supervision. News of these regulations bumped up the stock prices of British financial institutions.

As U.S. regulators and banks battle over the implementation of the Volker Rule, the regulatory scheme in Britain bears watching.