Competition Law in the Financial Sector – Save the Date – 5 June 2014
The Scottish Competition Law Forum, in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s Europa Institute, would like to invite you to an event designed to debate the questions and problems arising from the challenge of securing effective rivalry within the financial industry in Scotland, the United Kingdom and the European Union, today and in the future.
The financial industry is one of the most important economic sectors in the UK and in Scotland. It has however become clear that “all is not well” in this pivotal sector, not just in Britain but across the European Union. The 2007 final report on retail banking, published by the EU Commission, highlighted a number of serious features which dampen competition in the industry.
The 2008 financial crisis had a significant impact on the state of play in the industry, resulting in wide-ranging restructuring and increased concentration. This is especially apparent in the United Kingdom and in Scotland. Despite recent efforts designed to encourage competition in the market, the perception is still that of a concentrated industry, where “too big to fail” firms continue to engage in less than transparent practices.
In a recent report from the Office of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, it was noted that in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote in September 2014, the banking industry would come to account for 1254% of an independent Scotland’s GDP: this factor, coupled with the fact that the Scottish banking market is polarised around two major institutions, was regarded as “likely to increase the risks, to markets, firms and consumers, of financial services firms” active in Scotland.
In addition, the LIBOR investigation has shown how concentrated markets, coupled with established practices allowing for the exchange of “sensitive information” among rivals for the purpose of determining key rates, may create an anti-competitive environment.
Against this background, it is legitimate to query what the future holds for the banking industry in the EU, in the UK and, in the event of independence, in Scotland. Should more be done to lessen the degree of concentration within this industry? Is the market sufficiently “open” and contestable for potential new entrants, so as to provide effective competitive constraints for incumbents? What about consumers? Is the retail side of the industry capable of countervailing possible collusive tendencies within this concentrated industry? And finally, is the existing regulatory framework, in its design and powers, suitable to the demands of ensuring effective rivalry in this market?
Speakers confirmed so far include:
Deborah Jones, Director of Competition at the FCA
Stephen Smith, Director, Competition and Regulatory Strategy, Lloyds Banking Group
Gary Gillespie, Chief Economic Adviser at the Scottish Government
John Schmidt, Partner, Shepherd & Wedderburn LLP
Owen Kelly OBE, Chief Executive, SFE
Trevor Pugh, Sheffield University
Dan Moore, OFT/CMA
Venue: Edinburgh University, Old College
We look forward to seeing you all there.