It’s a popular pastime today to throw stones at banks and vilify bankers, which is quite understandable given their pivotal role in bringing down the lifestyles of the world population. We are all questioning financial services and how it can be so rotten
and be run by such greedy and morally decadent people. Should we be so sanctimonious though? Should we question how such a global industry is allowed to employ people that can bring cataclysmic results in all walks of life before we start on the road back
to creating a finance industry that performs to the expectations of society.
Bankers are us; they are not some alien being or a creation of a monstrous experiment. They are the same as the rest of us. They commit acts of fraud and bend if not break rules, looking for an edge, a chance to make money for themselves and their family
and be recognised as successful. These are human traits that we can all relate to.
For example; the estate agent who plays one client off against another to inflate the price and thus increase their commission on the sale or the consultant who deliberately extends the time on the project to inflate the cost or the supplier that over markets
and over sells the capability of the product, the store that sells produce nearly out of date or substandard, the plumber, electrician and builder that add more time or inflate the cost of materials to the bill. I could go on but you get my point.
Individually we are all fallible too. People fiddle time and expenses, throw sickies here and there wherever the opportunity presents itself and they need some extra time off. How many people buy goods that are cheap and clearly have a dodgy history and
how many people when presented with an opportunity to make a fast buck, take it with no questions asked? Numerous timeshares and various online websites and countless scams, offering people easy money pay testament to this.
The fact is society has high expectations, but low values and this is exactly like bankers. Investment bankers work in an environment where in order to stand out from the crowd in the dealing room generally full of testosterone, they have to make big profits
and that normally entails high risk. They are playing to the gallery and their bosses turn a blind eye as they see high profits, bonuses, dividends and media acclaim.
These are all human frailties that given the chance, who would say no?
This is why the main problem in financial services and banking in particular is the culture and the ethical and moral capability of people to work for the good of their clients. To do this more effectively the rewards have to be moderated. It’s no use having
bankers earning premier footballer’s salaries but their performances not valued by the public and therefore jealously mocked.
Bankers are the same as all of us and before we write new rules and introduce new laws we need to tackle the greed and avarice in society that produces people that do what most people would do given the chance. It’s a society issue first and foremost and
one each and every one of us should first look at ourselves, as after all you reap what you sow.