A role model banking could do without

A few days ago, Boris Johnson responded to the charge that he was anti business.

 

His defence? ‘I was one of the very few people who spoke up for the bankers after the global financial crash’

 

Interesting. Of course strictly speaking banking is part of business.
Most of us might , however, feel a little more reassurance if he had spoken up in defence of manufacturers, or inventors, or digital entrepreneurs, or the pharmaceutical industry or road haulage,or family businesses.

 

Of course few people distinguish between investment bankers about whom Boris Johnson was speaking, and the clearing bankers who grant us overdrafts and make more modest business loans.

 

I was reminded of the difference by the story in today’s Guardian (Banker lined up to lead Santander sues for €100m)

 

Santander had offered Andrea Orcel the job of CEO but withdrew the offer when it was expected to pay a €50m signing on fee to compensate him for bonuses he said he would forfeit by leaving UBS.

 

Perhaps they also realised that this was not the kind of leader who would be well placed to appeal to employees to make sacrifices when the going got tough.

 

They must now feel they have had a lucky escape given the lawsuits demand that Santander either pay him compensation or reinstate the offer of the CEOs post.

 

What a unique sense of humour Mr Orcel must have in making that last demand. Just imagine the reaction of bank employees on discovering that their new leader cared so much about the good name of the bank he wanted to lead that he would be willing to drag it through the courts rather than start working for them without a golden handshake of €50m!

 

Yesterday I was discussing with the FCA and leaders in financial services how the industry might build public trust and demonstrate its commitment to customers and societal well being. There are good people in financial services who care deeply that there industry provides vital services that help people be more secure and progress in their lives.

 

Step forward Andrea Orcel as the role model of the kind of leadership no bank needs in the twenty first century.

 

And speak up Boris Johnson. Is this the kind of banker you meant to defend?

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