Making the banks more successful in a rotten economy

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TOTTENHAM COURT ROAD — They’re all in a mess today. Citigroup was once my poster-child for what a global business could be. Now they’re borrowing more than the GDP of Oman.

Standard Chartered has long been a favourite because they bank neatly in places that need neat banking – India, Africa, Asia. But they’re in trouble too.

And Barclays are allowed to enjoy 15 minutes of the old hubris that we expect of our banks, as they get a bail-out from just along the coast in Qatar.

Even LloydsTSB and HBoS are all over the papers. How much did those weekend full page ads targeting shareholders cost? (Here I naively thought that companies had mailing lists for their shareholders…)

And then there’s HSBC‘s Chairman calling for a better values approach to banking. Which sounds great. Here we’d thought banking was just about “value”. Nonetheless it does seem like Mr Green is preaching to the life boats from the highest piece of dry land.

Why do I like these banks so much? Why am I so positive about their future?

Clever banks, with good internal communications, can change everything virtually over-night. Banks do not have assembly line to reassemble. They do not have products to go through R&D. They don’t have to find new holes in the ground or wait for the sun to shine. They just ‘do’ things.

With a capacity for change management and good internal communications — and strong values — they can do anything they like. In an instant.

And the clever ones will.

Sadly, I suppose, of all the banks I have worked with, the Nationwide Building Society is probably the best at this…

Hmm. Maybe there’s… Nah.


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