Lloyds CEO Says Image of Banks Harming Recruitment of Graduates

Lloyds Banking Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Antonio Horta-Osorio said the U.K. financial center’s tarnished reputation is harming banks’ ability to recruit the best university graduates.

A YouGov survey of students that showed only 2 percent were considering a career in financial services is “very worrying” and should be urgently addressed by an industry that needs the finest recruits to transform itself, according to a draft of a prepared speech Horta-Osorio is making at Oxford University’s Said Business School today.

“We want the best and the brightest to see banking as a credible career choice,” Horta-Osorio, 49, said. “This is vital for the industry’s long-term viability.”

The banking industry has faced a series of scandals including the widespread rigging of benchmark interest rates, the improper selling of loan insurance to customers and accusations of money laundering for drug dealers and terrorists. Lloyds, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender, has set aside 6.8 billion pounds ($10.4 billion) to compensate customers who were mis-sold payment protection insurance, more than any other U.K. bank.

Horta-Osorio is striving to return the 39 percent government-owned bank to the private sector after receiving a 20 billion-pound taxpayer bailout following the takeover of HBOS Plc during the 2008 financial crisis. London-based Lloyds has eliminated more than 35,000 jobs since it was rescued, including 850 positions in its business banking, consumer, insurance, wealth and asset finance divisions announced last week.

“We aspire to be safe, risk-averse, dependable and more than a little dull,” Horta-Osorio said.

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