Eighty-one per cent of financial institutions say a shift towards a global regulatory standard for the financial sector is desirable given the fallout of the global financial crisis, though 61 per cent feel such a system is "unworkable".
A survey of 125 senior executives at financial institutions, released by Norton Rose this week, found executives worldwide felt political disagreements made a detailed international regime impossible, even if 66 per cent rated it as necessary.
Even within Europe there has been conflict between the UK - which would like to hold on to its position as the region's financial centre - and countries such as France which favour heavy regulation of banks and hedge funds, the survey found.
Populist moves on banker bonuses are being viewed more as window-dressing by respondents, because agreement on more weighty issues such as fiscal, monetary and regulatory changes are still eluding European governments.
As a result, respondents saw regulation as a national matter, which the report claimed may signal that the economy is returning to "something like business as usual".
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) cautioned against such complacency in its October 2009 World Economic Outlook, saying "the achievement of a major overhaul must not be jeopardised by growing confidence that the greatest dangers are past".
Sydney-based Norton Rose partner Helen Paul said in a statement this week that growing compliance burden would be a significant factor for institutions as debate on global regulation continues. "Compliance with a web of regulatory regimes will impose challenges for compliance co-ordination for cross-border business - not the least of which will be cost," Paul said.
Meanwhile, the survey was extremely positive on the global economic outlook, with 81 per cent of respondents agreeing the global economy is improving.
Likewise, the survey held welcome news for Asia, with 68 per cent of respondents expecting a permanent shift in economic power from West to East following the GFC, and particularly to China, which 87 per cent felt would lead the recovery.
- Ben Abbott