back to article Banks told to spend £1bn on new IT to prepare for failure

The Financial Services Authority is consulting with UK High Street banks about the need to improve their IT systems so that consumers will get their money back more quickly if a bank should fail. The FSA estimates that British banks would have to spend just under £1bn to upgrade systems so they could provide a comprehensive …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone Noticed...

    the timing of this appears to be Windows 7 friendly?

    I'll get my coat.

  2. John Scott
    IT Angle

    There's a surprise!

    No surprise there. Most, if not all Banks' IT gear is years out of date and it really amazes me how they don't break more often.

    On another point, how can it cost c. £900m over 5 years but only take 18 months to put in place… or did I do my maths calculations wrong?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ernst and Young silly numbers

    Divide it by 1000 and you've still got a ridiculously inflated cost for running a database query on a banks customer list.

  4. Dapprman

    @ John Scott

    I work for one of the major high street banks and most of our hardware is latest or near latest generation hardware. I have a few friends who work for a number of the other banks and I believe they are in a similar situation.

    A system failure for a high street bank is incredibly embarrassing for them and a P/R nightmare so you may be surprised just how much effort already goes in to resilience and D/R

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Good thing

    They are sending out cheques. will they be guaranteed by the same failed bank that issues them?

    much easier than giving something that might actually be worth something, like money.

  6. N Silver badge

    Prepare for failure?

    I thought theyd failed already?

  7. Gulfie

    @AC "Ernst and Young silly numbers" are not that silly

    Many banks have subsumed smaller banks into their corporate structure over the years and it is usual to NOT merge in customer data into one large, central system but to continue running the IT systems of the previously independent bank.

    It is essentially far cheaper and much less risky to do this - the bank will undertake some kind of cost vs risk analysis to support their decision. So a large bank could easily end up with several sets of systems.

    Now add in the fact that the system used for, say, residential customers is probably a completely separate one for business, and that deposit accounts might run on a third, and so on, and so on, and you have a lot of systems only minimally connected and no overall view.

    I had a chat about a contract for an insurance company, they were aiming to develop a new all-encompassing system to sell, track and manage all existing and future insurance policies across all their European operations and this involved replacing over 250 different applications...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Might as well get something for all the money the taxpayer has just given them...

  9. Ron Eve


    I thought cheques were being phased out... Imagine your surprise when you try to pay it in and they point to the sign "Cheques no longer accepted".


    If they're so advanced and hi tech why cant' they sort out their *kin web sites so that they're W3C compatible and not just Windoze/IE? Some do so it really can't be that difficult. Or are the back handers from M$ to big to ignore?

    /mine's the one with the fake paying-in slips in the pocket...

  10. Simon Painter
    Thumb Down

    oh dear

    A bunch of linux enthusiasts with their home made PCs think they know about big company IT in the banking sector.

    Yes, I am sure when the banks are trying to decide if they should cater to the 80%+ who use IE or the 10% who use Firefox they are of course going to make the logical choice to make things look best for the niche user. You can slap whatever web front end you like on the system, it's the kit in the background and the many evolved applications that have to interact that are being discussed here.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dapper, @JohnScott

    Having worked for an investment for a year and a half as a consultant my experience is they're far more clued up on resilence and D/R than most organisations.

    They have to be: if a system goes down, the magntiude of the losses can run into the hudrends of millions, even billions.

    They can literally move an entire team of people from one building to another and have the systems up and fully running in the new building within 20 minutes.

  12. Bruno Girin

    @John Scott

    This is probably the total price including design and installtion over 18 months + support and recurring costs of that live system over 3 1/2 years after that for a total cost of £900m over 5 years.

    When sizing a large IT deployment, you always needs to take support and recurring costs after live date into account. You know, things like regular backups, h/w and s/w maintenance, recurring license fees, training material, support procedures, bug fixes, etc, all those little things that can add a lot of dosh to the total cost of a project. The cost of a system doesn't stop when it goes live, it stops when it's decommissioned (and sometimes not even then).

  13. Richard

    Spend lots more money....

    .... seems to actually increase the possibility of more banks failing?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Superb Timing

    Just the day after Barclays annouces it's sacking 400 IT Staff.

  15. Gulfie

    @Simon Painter

    Simon, keep up mate, IE market share is currently 68% not 80% plus. You can't make a case on the back of plain wrong stats (although successive UK governments have done so for years!).

    Almost one in three people are choosing not to use IE. Yes I'm in IT, I use a Mac as my main personal machine but even on Windows I don't use IE if I have the choice, neither do the rest of my family, and many of my (non-IT) friends - because it is generally accepted that they are more open to attack (in the same way, incidentally, that I've yet to find anyone who uses MS Firewall rather than the one they get with, say, Norton)

    Its very annoying that some key features just don't work properly or in some cases, at all. Time for the financial sector to pull their fingers out...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dapprman @John Scott

    I also work in banking IT and pretty much all of our kit is top notch & very modern, but you forget where you are - This is The Reg comments section, any school child who has managed to install Ubuntu automatically makes anything they think true by saying it here, they also know everything about all IT, just through being able to make a comment.

  17. Gordon Pryra

    @Dapprman and John Scott and Fraser

    Yeah the Kit you see in the offices, most of the servers etc are new and spanky.

    But the databases and the systems in use on them are the same ones that have been there for 15-20 years. Just upgraded and modified along the way.

    Try any form of data migration and scratch the surface and find the rotten core of bolt on quick fixes, single points of failiure and the old fav of mine. Yeah the guy that knows that system is retiring in 3 weeks.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Gordon Pryra

    Yes, that's right, lots of the old code from years ago is still run, but it's on spanking new databases/hardware. Why re-write old code that is well written, it introduces risk, you update it for the specific requirement changes. Better still if your requirement has changed interface a separate piece of code to do the new job rather than potentially compromising the old code by modifying it. (This does result in labyrinthine complexity, which is a down side...)

    All IBM mainframes use HASP for printing, HASP is Houston Automated Spooling Program, it's a tiny bit of code that was written for the Moon programme to do printing, it works, it's well coded and efficient, the guy who wrote it is probably dead, certainly well into retirement, it doesn't mean that it's not supportable. It is documented and commented, this is a requirement for most modern companies, especially financial service.

    Banks are required to undertake periodic DR rehersals, this is specifically to week out SPOFs, non-migrateable data etc. Also, due to the constant upgrade programeme that most modern companies run data migration happens all the time.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bundling all a person's accounts into one place

    I work in a bank as a developer, and there is no way that's ever going to happen. All the different types of accounts are held seperately for resiience, not just by chance.

    if i update the mortgage system, and something goes wrong, would you want it to take out the whole bank, or just the mortgage system!

    all of the accounts are kept seperate for exactly that reason, and it's all tied together through the customer data.

    the other issue is a legal one, the sheer volume of data that needs to be kept for years means that migration isn't ever a small job.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Now now, dont lie The fact that you just promoted a Norton product makes me doubt that you are in IT.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @ Fraser

    I don't know about the other guy using Ubuntu, but like the BSDs (OpenBSD, for me).

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