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Opinion > HTB

The ripples of the 2008 crisis can still be felt today

Stuart Hulme, director of savings and marketing at Hampshire Trust Bank | 07:27 Wednesday 26th September 2018

The financial crisis of 2008 was a watershed moment in global capitalism. Ten years ago, US investment bank Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, triggering the so-called ‘Great Recession’.

More specifically, the Wolf of Wall Street gang were suddenly – and totally unexpectedly – thrust into battle with politicians and regulators. Banks went desperately hand in hand to central bankers and governments, begging to be ‘bailed out’. In the UK, many banks had to be propped up by the then Labour government and remain partially owned today.

The aftermath of this carnage – or economic devastation – can still be felt today. The impact of the crisis has left people’s wages 3% below what they were a decade ago, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Moreover, regulators have teeth and bear down on errant banks and bankers.

The recent anniversary has invited a host of questions. What has changed since then? Could the global recession that followed have been avoided? Are we safer now than we were then?

Yet, through this carnage emerged a tiny glimmer of hope: in the aftermath of 2008, challenger and specialist banks have flourished. Moreover, new regulations – which were introduced post crisis and designed to foster competition in the banking sector – have encouraged the development of challenger banks and specialist lenders.

It has been argued that withdrawal of lending to SMEs was one of the worst outcomes of the 2008 financial crisis. However, the withdrawal of the traditional banks from the SME lending market provided a golden opportunity for a wave of ‘challenger banks’, which started to occupy this space.

Moreover, as more and more customers grew dissatisfied with traditional banks, challenger banks rose to the occasion. 

As a specialist bank, we still face many hurdles. However, it’s clear that challenger banks are here to stay. At Hampshire Trust Bank, we have stepped up to the plate and intend to raise our game over the coming months and years. There will inevitably be consolidation in the challenger space, but we have every reason to be optimistic about the future.

The year 2008 was a dark time for banking and financial services, but through adversary – and after a lot of hard graft – a new, exciting and fresh form of banking has emerged. Indeed, would the challenger space be what it is had the 2008 crisis not happened? 

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