Over the last few years there has been a constant stream of bad news and incompetence around the financial institutions and their leaders. Since the Barclay’s announcement and the ongoing review being undertaken by the British Government at the moment, I would like to bring a perspective to this debate that seems to be missing.
You see Banking and Insurance are both selling the public a ‘promise’. A promise that you can give them the money you have earned and paid taxes on on a promise that they will care for it and use it in a way that is in your best interest. The promise is conditional (the small print that they are famous for writing) but it is still a promise.
There is nothing tangible being provided, it is simply a promise and a request that we will trust them to keep their word and that the money will be safe and the rewards will be there when needed.
So in reality, all that Banks and Insurance companies really have to back up their promise is their Integrity. Without that integrity, they really have nothing at all. Without integrity, a promise is of no real value.
So why on earth are bankers surprised when the public are questioning their integrity? Their integrity is in tatters and they are doing very little to rebuild their integrity.
When BP had a leak in the Gulf of Mexico, their integrity was broken and it took decisive action, a heavy investment in the public, communities, etc. to rebuild that trust. They rose to that challenge and actively worked at building relationships with communities and investing in rebuilding what they could.
Banks are not showing that they even understand that all they have is their integrity to offer the communities. They show no sign of appreciating that it does not matter who did what…. it has happened and they are responsible. They also don’t seem to appreciate that they only have their integrity to offer if they want to continue to offer a promise.
Sooner or later the issue is going to become an irretrievable state of affairs. The sooner that banks can take decisive action to rebuild that trust and integrity with the public, the sooner the public and the companies can start to really rebuild or economies and businesses that are sitting on cash will start to invest.
Banking and Insurance have to go back to the beginning and remember what they are selling and what they need if they are going to be effective in being able to deliver on that promise.