City regulators have fined TSB £48m for “widespread and serious” failings related to the IT meltdown in 2018 that left millions of banking customers locked out of their accounts for weeks.
The long-awaited fine is expected to draw a line under the scandal, which tarnished the challenger bank’s reputation and forced its chief executive to step down within months of the botched move to a new IT platform.
The near five-year investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) found that TSB failed to properly “organise and control” the IT migration programme, which was part of its separation from its former parent company, Lloyds Banking Group. They also said the bank failed to manage risks linked to its outsourcing deals with third parties involved in the migration.
TSB fined £48m over IT migration meltdown – business liveRead more
“The failings in this case were widespread and serious which had a real impact on the day-to-day lives of a significant proportion of TSB’s customers, including those who were vulnerable,” said Mark Steward, the FCA director for enforcement.
“The firm failed to plan for the IT migration properly, the governance of the project was insufficiently robust and the firm failed to take reasonable care to organise and control its affairs responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems,” he added.
The £48.7m fine means the IT meltdown has cost TSB more than £400m. The bank has already paid £366m, including £32.7m for customer redress, as well as funding a rebuild of its IT systems and an independent report into internal failings.
The episode was linked to TSB’s decision to move customers to a new IT system in 2018, meant to finalise its separation from Lloyds that started five years earlier. But failed attempts to move customers en masse to the new system that April left millions of people locked out of their accounts for weeks, with some still facing issues in December that year.
The chief executive, Paul Pester, was forced to resign within months of the meltdown, after intense criticism from regulators and MPs, and an independent investigation concluded that TSB’s board lacked “common sense” and was shifting customers to the new platform before it was fully tested.
The PRA said the disruption caused by those failings “fell below the standards” expected of UK banks.
The consumer group Which? welcomed the fine, saying that the meltdown had “caused huge misery and inconvenience for customers”.
“It’s encouraging that the regulator has taken strong action today, sending a clear message to other firms that damaging IT glitches will not be tolerated,” the Which? Money editor, Jenny Ross, said.
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Commenting on the fine on Tuesday, the TSB chief executive, Robin Bulloch, said: “We’d like to apologise again to TSB customers who were impacted by issues following the technology migration in 2018. We worked hard to put things right for customers then and have since transformed our business.
“Over the past four years, we have harnessed our technology to deliver new products and better services for TSB customers.”
TSB’s owner, the Spanish bank Sabadell, was believed to be exploring a sale in 2020, having hired Goldman Sachs to review the business in the wake of the IT meltdown that resulted in sweeping cost cuts and a pre-tax loss of £105.4m in 2018.
But Sabadell, which bought the UK lender from Lloyds for £1.7bn in 2015, earlier this year said it had no intention of selling TSB, and had rebuffed a £1bn approach by the Co-operative Bank in November last year.
TSB was originally hived off from Lloyds as part of efforts to boost competition in the banking sector following the latter’s £20.3bn government bailout in 2008.