The financial services industry stands at a turning point.
It has handed exceptional rewards to a small minority of people who have become rich beyond their wildest dreams.
But it has also heaped extraordinary debt onto the vast majority who face years of austerity as a result of the financial crisis that began in 2008 and continues to rage across the continent.
A small, good thing to come out of Europe is the ruling by regulators that Lloyds Banking Group must cast off 632 branches and £36bn of assets as a condition of receiving £20bn in state aid when it stood on the brink of collapse.
This creates the opportunity to create more competition, diversity and stability in the UK’s banking sector, which is dominated by colossal institutions that are too big to fail and which offer mostly nothing but poor service to both businesses and consumers.
The divestment business – codenamed Project Verde – has attracted interest from NBNK Investments, a takeover vehicle run by former Northern Rock boss Gary Hoffman, and The Co-operative Group, the retail and financial services group.
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