Bank-bashing is here to stay

So George Soros is the latest person to suggest that banks are just too big. President Obama and our own Financial Services Authority have already made their position pretty clear.

Banks are going to be smaller. Irrespective of whether that makes them less profitable.

And that’s one of the interesting things here. The assumption appears to be that the profit motive is inherently wrong.

Don’t get me wrong certain Banks (and bankers) have a lot to answer for in the way they went about making those profits. They have exposed the world economy to a deep recession.

But let me give a slightly different perspective here. And I know Bankers and Banks are about as popular as Traffic Wardens right now. Or maybe Estate Agents.

Not all people working for banks are getting £1m bonuses. I spent 10 years of my career working in Financial Services (much of it with banks now at least partly in Government ownership). Many of the people I met work part time in local branches. Many of them are working mothers. Many of them are earning far less than £20k per year. They are generally good people.

So when we use the term “bankers” as a synonym for “fat cat” I have to take issue with it. Banks have a right to exist. They are an essential part of the fabric of our society. Not just because of the good work they do in local communities. Or the large amounts they have given to charities over many years. Their profitablity is essential to the ongoing employment of hundreds of thousands of people in this country. And the long term health of many pension funds.

The Banks have quite simply failed to make the case for their ongoing value to society. And so they get kicked from pillar to post.

Yes some banking executives have made some catastrophic mistakes. But in my view we need to stop demonising the banking industry.

Sadly, in the run up to a General Election here in the UK this issue is only going to get more political. The season of bank-bashing will go on.

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