Monday, 10 January 2011

Sensitivity in banking

James at The Campaign War Room has a piece up today on the need for bankers to show some sensitivity as the Government turns its eye towards bankers bonuses.
The financial sector has consistently struggled to understand the levels of public and political hostility towards it, and has therefore never developed the right tone in its communications, or developed the right short-term policies to keep the public and politicians onside. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the bankers' bonus row, the fact is their actions and their tone in the downturn risk further alienating people. And if a campaign starts - backed by senior politicians and the popular media - for action to be taken against the banks, the Government is bound to listen.
Its a fair point. The banking and financial sector has been at times aggressive, surly and defensive, sometimes all at once and there is a need for the sector to take a step back and accept that whether they believe its fair or not, the public don't like them and thats the way things are going to be for a good long time. Of course, the pragmatic reasons for doing this are clear:
If the financial sector shows some sensitivity in the short term - until the worst of the cuts are over and the economy starts recovering properly - the worst of their problems will pass. While the industry may need structural reform - something the forthcoming banking commission will deal with - they have a serious short-term PR problem which they need to pay attention to.
The "why us?" complex is not unique to the banking industry. Many large companies, particularly those at the tops of their industry struggle to accept or rationalise public dislike. It's a particularly British bit of double think that we can use a service/store/misc all the time, yet wax lyrical about how much we hate it. Somehow we're able to rationalise this and life proceeds quite comfortably.

We're a strange people sometimes.
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