Saturday, 3 September 2011

There's No Good Time For Banks To Change

Retail bankers always fiercely resist change. I guess that's because they've always had to follow the manual. Unless the manual changes they are powerless to help. Add to this a general lack of accountability for the manual, and you have the perfect recipe for inertia. This explains retail bankers' resistance to faster payments, fairer overdraft charges, abandoning the sale of payment protection insurance ... the list goes on and on and on. It's cultural, regardless of their woeful economic plight.

So, of course, we find febrile resistance to the notion of 'ring-fencing' or other structural proposals to shuffle the deckchairs somehow prevent the need for massive taxpayer subsidies to keep retail banks afloat. Timing is always the last line of defence, and now we're hearing from the British Bankers Association that they couldn't possible restructure until never they've financed the recovery and repaid bail-out funds to the taxpayer.

I completely understand the concerns about restructuring banks amidst the current economic hurricane. But isn't the purpose of restructuring them to protect us against one of them being swamped? If so, surely now is the time to batten down hatches and secure the cargo as best we can.

Or should we simply be manning the lifeboats?

Image from gCaptain.
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