The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has accused bankers of having "a culture of entitlement" in a scathing critique of the City's ethical and professional standards.
Welby, a member of the cross-party Banking Standards Commission, said bankers should be required to pass exams in order to raise standards in the industry and restore public trust in the profession.
His comments come as the commission prepares to publish its final report on how to improve behaviour in London's financial centre. George Osborne, the chancellor, has pledged to incorporate its proposals into draft legislation.
Speaking to the Financial Times, the archbishop said: "In banking, in particular, and in the City of London, a culture of entitlement has affected a number of areas – not universally by any means – in which it seemed to disconnect from what people saw as reasonable in the rest of the world."
The former oil industry executive said serious consideration should be given to forming a professional regulatory body, similar to the General Medical Council, to enforce standards.
He said: "Banks are incredibly complicated things. The idea that people can hold hugely responsible positions in them without any kind of formal training seems to a number of us quite surprising."
Welby also echoed the concerns of Sir Mervyn King, outgoing governor of the Bank of England, that some banks were still carrying too much bad debt and could require further taxpayer recapitalisation.
"Part of an ethical approach is transparency and reality about recognising where you are," he said. "The lesson from Japan is if you're going to bit the bullet, it's better to bite it sooner rather than later."
Speaking on Radio 4 on Saturday, the archbishop repeated his warning that Britain is in an economic depression from which it could take a generation to recover.
"We are still significantly below where we were in 2007 in terms of economic activity, of GDP, and that's quite a long time of being below," he told George Parker, the FT's political editor, on Radio 4's The Week in Westminster.
The archbishop also downplayed whether his comments on the state of the economy had annoyed Downing Street. "They haven't said anything here. I mean they probably would have preferred it not said," he said.
"Now, I'm not pointing any fingers at anyone in particular and saying it's so and so's fault or so and so's fault, it's simply a measurable fact coming from the national statistics."
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