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Saturday, 19 April 2008

The banks - to be serious for a moment

A piece in The Economist about Sir "Fred" Goodwin who has managed in exchange for Lord knows how many millions in salary and pension to screw up the Royal Bank of Scotland, prompted me to comment.

(He sounds a thoroughly unpleasant oaf, by the way). Anyhow, this is what I wrote:

An airline head once commented that if the seat back trays are not properly kept clean, passengers start to wonder how well the engines are maintained.

It seems to me that a sound way to assess the management of any organisation is not from the preening and self-aggrandisement of the bosses, but how they attend to detail.

There cannot be a bank customer in this country who is unaware that not one of the big banks is even vaguely competent at anything except ceaseless and, judging by the fuss about their dubious charges, frequently dishonest rapacity.

Anyone who has worked, as I have with all of them, in a marketing capacity knows that they are hopeless at that - which is where their money comes from, by the way; it is no surprise that they are hopeless at everything else, including it would seem, the ability to do their sums.

People like Goodwin in so many large organisations are essentially only really good at three things: getting to the top, big talk and making damn sure they get well paid, no matter what happens to the staff and customers.

The analogy with Gordon Brown, whom we were also assured by the media for so many years was a financial genius, is hard to ignore.

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