Posts Tagged ‘investment banking’

Westminster needs to learn from the City

19/09/2012, 03:19:26 PM

by Alex Glasner

Banking is, perhaps, one of the few careers that is less popular than politics. However, having made the leap from political researcher to the world of investment banking, what has become clear is that, far from being the seat of easy money and privilege, investment banking is hardworking, innovative, and meritocratic.

Can the Westminster village boast that it shares these characteristics?

I have no doubt that the world of banking needs to be better regulated, that banks should make clear their social value, and that banking needs to be more open, more accessible.

However, while issues such as excessive pay do need to be addressed, there are equally pressing problems in politics: – not least the fundamental ignorance of many politicians I have met to who struggle to discern the difference between investment and retail banking.

Politics has a lot to learn from and about the City.

Firstly, politics should imitate many of the practices of banking.

My last week in Parliament involved as much intrigue, drinking, and the use opinion not fact to mould speeches as my first week in banking required long hours, little sleep and using facts to write reports and inform opinion.

And yet politicians, especially in our party, like to use the City as a punch-bag. It is now with unadulterated irony that I view Westminster’s view of banking: they see it as privileged, avaricious, and socially barren.

To progress in banking, image is secondary to performance. People progress not so much through whom they know, so much as what they know and how they practice it.

In politics, I am sorry to say that I was struck by how the conviviality and friendship struck between MPs underpinned business and how insincere it could be.


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Want to fix banking regulation? Try a dose of greed

04/07/2012, 07:00:07 AM

by Anthony Bonneville

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for bankers.

Barclays has been caught with its fingers in the proverbial till again. A new mis-selling scandal has been unveiled featuring all our favourite banking villains. And Nat West meanwhile fails to perform even the most basic of tasks one would expect from a bank.

The cry has gone up, “something must be done,” and in government, this means inquiries, reports, sage deliberations and, ultimately, nothing happening to the banks who, by an astonishing coincidence, are also substantial donors and lobbyists.

Meanwhile Joris Luyendijk’s excellent blogs in the Guardian continue to reveal the mentality of some people in financial services and the potentially toxic culture that they are immersed in and inevitably affected by.

One of the finest examples of this is the interview with a senior regulator, who advises,

“Banks are fundamentally amoral places. They are not immoral; morality simply has no part in the decision-making process. They talk about ‘reputational risk’, not about right and wrong decisions”

He’s not wrong. The resignation statement of Barclay’s chairman Marcus Agius (before he unresigned himself and took charge again following Bob Diamond’s exit) declares.

“We will establish a zero-tolerance policy for any actions that harm the reputation of the bank.”

Not even zero tolerance for actions that could harm the reputation of the bank. This form of words rather unfortunately leaves the door open to an interpretation that Barclays staff are being enjoined not to “do no wrong” but “don’t get caught”.

Bob Diamond followed suit yesterday with the type of heartfelt of mea culpa that restores public faith in bankers’ conscience and integrity,

“The external pressure placed on Barclays has reached a level that risks damaging the franchise”

Or maybe not.

Clearly then, it is a vain hope that the bad banks will keep their own house in order, so what is the solution?


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