geoff roberts takes the opportunity to praise the banking industry for its excellent service record compared to other big businesses
When I was recently asked to write a few words about something relating to banking industry issues, it was suggested that I should choose a topic that was causing particular concern at the moment. Indeed, the word 'rant' was mentioned.
My initial reaction was of being spoilt for choice. Having started a career in banking before many readers were born, and having been involved in offshore banking for more years than I care to admit, there are plenty of possible subjects.
Money laundering; terrorism; the EU Savings Tax; cross-border marketing restrictions; increasing bureaucracy overall; mis-selling (which damages the reputation of all in the industry, whether involved or not); MVAs; the loss of the status which the banking profession used to enjoy; consumer protection which, however well intentioned, does not protect the consumer - the list is endless.
In the last few days, however, I have been exposed to a couple of small, perhaps to some people insignificant, examples of the other side of the industry. The first was a presentation by senior members of my bank to staff in London. The enthusiasm, dedication and commitment shown by all the presenters was undeniably genuine and infectious. Yes, we would like to make money but this is tempered and supported by the need to 'do the right thing for the customer'.
The other was the way in which a customer complaint was handled. Difficult to believe but even my bank receives the occasional complaint. With total disregard for the value of the account, the customer was contacted by a senior manager, not his assistant, the gentleman's views were listened to, actioned and followed up promptly and accurately. The end result was a happy customer who, I suspect, if he banks with us for his lifetime will not generate enough income to cover the costs of the exercise. Not surprising, perhaps, and I bet that this happens any number of times a day across the industry but how often does it happen nowadays elsewhere?
During the same period I spoke with several customers and had meetings with bank staff from both within my organisation and from other banks. The courtesy shown and the commitment to working out solutions was total, and diametrically opposed to the experience I have had today with a well-known airline, notwithstanding its advertising boasts.
Without wishing to appear complacent, I am sorry but I shall not be having a rant, because for all its challenges, from these examples this is still a strong, dynamic and fundamentally caring industry, of which I remain proud.
What made financial headlines over the weekend?
To promote 'long-term investment'
Switching 'hard and expensive'
Smaller funds still packing a punch