But the increasing frequency of scandals in British banking over the past months has raised questions over the country’s ability to manage its huge financial sector.
In July, Prime Minister David Cameron announced a Parliamentary inquiry into the culture and practices of the industry to help decide what new regulations and structures are needed.
‘‘We are very bad at prosecuting financial crime in this country,’’ Kenneth Clarke, Britain’s justice secretary, said recently. ‘‘I suspect financial crime is easier to get away with in this country than practically any other sort of crime.’’
One problem with financial oversight is that it is costly. It requires hiring many finance professionals, many of whom command big salaries, to perform detailed checks and audits on a vast number of companies.
That’s doubly difficult when the government is trying to save money — along with other government agencies, the Serious Fraud Office, the prosecuting agency, has seen its budget cut.
Britain’s main effort to overhaul financial regulation is centered on replacing the current structure — which sees the Bank of England, the Treasury and the Financial Services Authority share responsibilities — with a new authority headed by the Bank of England.
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has been particularly keen to push for new laws to force banks to separate their retail banks from the racier and riskier investment banks.
‘‘What I hope is that everyone — everyone — now understands that something went very wrong with the U.K. banking industry and we need to put it right,’’ King said in late June, as Barclays’ market-fixing scandal was erupting.