Lessons of finance crisis 'not learned'

Banks and investment houses have learned few lessons from the financial crisis and may be rebuilding the system that caused it, a senior industry figure said yesterday.

Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life Investments, was speaking at a breakfast seminar for business leaders in Edinburgh at which a panel of experts discussed what could be learned from the events of recent years.

Skeoch said aftershocks from the credit crunch would be felt for years to come. "It's not clear to me that we have learned the lessons," he said. "Politicians are working hard to rebuild the old system, and we will not put a systemic fix in place until we can replace the old system."

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Skeoch also highlighted the ongoing "search for yield" among investors and financial institutions. He said that search for ever better returns was one of the things that caused the financial crisis, but added it was now being encouraged by low interest rates.

"We need to start turning the wheel on public opinion. We need to get the message across that capital markets are important. They are about more than the banks," he added.

Colin McLean, managing director of SVM Asset Management, said that a "trust gap" remained with the public. He said investment risks had to be assessed more thoroughly, and be better explained to clients.

John Moore, divisional director of Brewin Dolphin, sounded some positive notes on the outcome of the last few years. He noted that investors were now much more interested in issues such as directors' pay and bonuses, and were using their votes to show their displeasure.

"Shareholders have found their voice again," he said.