Press release

Banking market investigation – appointment of group and issues statement

The CMA has announced the independent members of the group for its investigation into the supply of personal current accounts (PCAs) and of banking services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).


The group has published a timetable for the various stages of the investigation and is required to publish its final report by 5 May 2016.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its decision to refer retail banking for a full ‘phase 2’ market investigation last week and the group is now carrying out a new, comprehensive and independent investigation to see if there are any features of this market which prevent, restrict or distort competition and, if so, what action might be taken to remedy them. (More information on market investigation references).

The group has also published an issues statement which sets out the proposed scope of the investigation. It outlines possible concerns about competition in retail banking but does not mean that the group has yet established that there are competition problems. The purpose is to help those submitting evidence to focus on the issues that will be investigated. The group will also welcome views on whether the correct issues have been identified.

The investigation will be chaired by Alasdair Smith, one of the CMA’s designated inquiry chairs, and the other panel members appointed are Tom Hoehn, Philip Marsden, Jill May, and Ed Smith. The investigation group will act as the decision maker in the case and is chosen from the CMA’s expert independent panel members, who come from a variety of backgrounds, including economics, law, accountancy and business.

Alasdair Smith, Chair of the Retail Banking Market Investigation Group, said:

The importance of banking to customers, small businesses and the wider economy is clear.

Widespread concerns have been expressed in recent years about the banking market. We will investigate what are the possible underlying causes of these. We are particularly focusing on the relatively small numbers of customers who switch banks, the difficulties they face in comparing offers, the persistently high market share of the bigger providers, and the barriers that face their newer and smaller competitors.

However these are just our starting points and we very much encourage submissions from everyone interested in the issues we have identified or who thinks we may be missing important areas.

The same group of panel members will carry out a review of the SME undertakings given by some banks in 2002, the details of which were also announced last week. A separate timetable has been also published today.

All information relating to the investigation will be available on the retail banking market investigation case page. Submissions in response to the issues statement are invited in writing by Wednesday 3 December 2014 either by email to or to:

Project Manager
Retail Banking Market investigation
Competition and Markets Authority
Victoria House
Southampton Row
London WC1A 4AD

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law. From 1 April 2014 it took over the functions of the Competition Commission and the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading under the Enterprise Act 2002, as amended by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.
  2. In its investigation, the CMA is required to decide whether ‘any feature, or combination of features, of each relevant market prevents, restricts or distorts competition in connection with the supply or acquisition of any goods or services in the United Kingdom or a part of the United Kingdom’. If so, then there is an adverse effect on competition and the CMA will also consider whether this is resulting in a detrimental effect on customers such as higher prices, lower quality or less choice of goods or services. The CMA will then decide whether it should introduce remedies to tackle the adverse effect on competition or detrimental effect on customers so far as it has resulted from, or may be expected to result from, that adverse effect on competition, or whether it should recommend action be taken by other bodies to remedy the adverse effects on competition, and if so, what action should be taken. If the CMA finds that there is no adverse effect on competition, the question of remedies will not arise.
  3. Enquiries should be directed to on 020 3738 6901, on 020 3738 6798 or on 020 3738 6460.
  4. For more information see the CMA’s homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn. Sign up to our email alerts to receive updates on the retail banking market investigation.
Published 12 November 2014