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UK regulator says retail banks have embraced cultural change

* FCA chairman says senior bankers "get" need for change

* Chief ombudsman says signs from top are encouraging (Adds comment from chief financial ombudsman)

By Matt Scuffham

LONDON, June 18 (Reuters) - Britain's retail banks have "got it" in relation to cultural change and the need to guard against misconduct, the chairman of the country's financial regulator said on Thursday.

The industry has been hit by a series of scandals in recent years, including the mis-selling of loan insurance, which has already cost the industry more than 26 billion pounds ($41 billion) in compensation, but the chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority said the banks understand the need to change.

"I think the retail banking sector in the UK has really got it," John Griffith-Jones told the British Bankers Association's retail banking conference.

"I think every chief executive and chairman wants to improve culture, but it doesn't move overnight, so it's a slightly dangerous situation where, to the outside world, it appears nothing is happening," he said.

Griffith-Jones' comments were echoed by Caroline Wayman, chief executive of Britain's Financial Ombudsman Service, which steps in when customers and their banks are in dispute.

"I hear things from the top that I think are encouraging and I start to see examples of that in the real world. I think that it takes times because individuals in organisations take time to believe that senior management mean it," she said.

The industry has continued to confront problems in relation to misconduct. Britain's biggest retail bank Lloyds for instance was fined 117 million pounds by the financial regulator this month for failings in the way it handled complaints about mis-sold loan insurance.

Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) , Royal Bank of Scotland (LSE: RBS.L - news) and HSBC have also been embroiled in various controversies including the mis-selling of complex hedging products to small businesses. ($1 = 0.6298 pounds) (Editing by David Holmes)

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