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yeah right…

The recent appalling concerns with the banking system world-wide what with Irish Bankers facing the courts, British and American Banks fixing the rates of money and perhaps oil, gold and corn, Royal Bank unable to run a computer system because they retired all their staff and trusted to off-shoring,  has led many to fear that these institutions are beyond any form of control.  Observers look on aghast at the wreckage of good solid banks steered onto the rocks by greed and utter foolishness.  The regulators stand by stupididly and politicians can only wring their hands and hope for the best.  There is a palpable sense of despair that nothing we the poor bloody infantry can do will bring them to heel.

Indeed we may well feel that we have hired a plumber to fix a simple drip in the kitchen tap only to return after work to find the house in ruins, and the plumber standing with his hand out looking for further payment whilst admitting that he was never trained for the job and had made the only guy in the team who knew what he was doing redundant last week.

Would you pay this numptie?  Would you continue to use his services?  Of course not, and it’s just the same with the banks.

Ah, but I hear you cry it’s all too difficult, the mortgage is bound up with the account the salary goes into, and the house insurance is tied in, and they would make it difficult what with the overdraft etc, etc, and then there is all that sodding paperwork and they will only make things difficult.  God it would be easier to divorce the wife.  Of course it’s just this kind of thinking that the Banksters are counting on.  That and the idea they put out that moving your account would be tantamount to a run on the banks and somehow inherently unpatriotic or even worse socialist .

Well it’s not. Not even slightly, but it is us the customers rather than the hopeless spoilt children we elect, (and who are bought entire by the banking system) that will have to bring the smack of good management to the boards of the banks.  There is plenty that you can do to make the banks feel your wrath, behave ethically and give you the customer something akin to decent service and you can do it this week and at no real effort or pain to yourselves either.

  1.  The Main Account.  This is the personal one that your salary goes into.  At the very least write to the manager of your local Banco Diablo and ask for assurances that they will be ensuring 100% they will not lose control of their IT, launder funding for criminals or pay their executives lottery win sums each year for poor results, and make it clear that your account with them is under review and that a watching brief is in place.  The reply, doubtless assuring you all is in control, might prove interesting when used in a future debacle.
  2. Savings Accounts  OK, here is something easier.  I will bet you probably have one of these.  The “Saving-up-together fund” you and the girl-friend have for getting married, or maybe “the Holiday fund”, the “Rainy-day account” etc.  Yes they are small beer perhaps, simple piggy bank accounts where money can be tucked away, but you could move them tomorrow or next week with no problems at all.  And come on the present miserable interest rates offered to you are poor incentive to stay surely?

    Then there are all those ad hoc business accounts that appear in one’s life.  Repairs or improvements to the apartments or buildings we live in that share common parts like roofs and roadways, often have escrow accounts into which each owner pops the money due into until the works are complete and funds can be released to the contractors.  If each of these were placed with a responsible bank as opposed to the rogue elements in the profession it would truly it would make a difference.
  3. Business.  If you have a business, you might consider moving, and if you are an employee for someone else you might consider asking the boss if they have considered moving banks in order to better assist local firms like themselves get better terms.  If you do not want to stick your neck out directly then this might be a topic for the works consultative meetings.  Firms might now consider the position of their trade associations regarding dealing with these rogue banks.
  4. Clubs (small).  Americans are the world’s joiners.  Nowhere else does one have so much communal contacts through clubs.  All of which need run and all have accounts.  Now, how many of you hold funds for these clubs?  The Brownies and Rainbows, the Saturday Soccer Team or the Scouts, the works Christmas fund, or the office tea fund.  All are accounts, all are funds, and all can go immediately to someone more professional and socially accountable.
  5. Churches and Charities.  Are you a member of a Church or Synagogue?  Do you take time out to help with some local charity perhaps?  Do you know who your church banks with?  Could you speak to the treasurer on Sunday?  Does your church have an ethical financial policy?  And even if they do does the bank they are with still fit the criterion?  A lot of people were stunned about Barclays and HSBC.  Ask your church if they support banks who off-shore the jobs of their local communities, who de-skill the community and leave the kids with nowhere to look for employment?  Does your church support Banks who will not lend monies to good solid local firms and businesses, or who cannot provide a simple decent service?  Even if there is a policy perhaps it’s time for a review?
  6. Clubs (larger).   Yes most of us are members of these.  Mine are mostly genealogical and historical, but hey, each has some funds and some can be quite considerably endowed.  University societies are particularly open to possible moving, and its only a couple of months to “Fresher’s Week” which would be an ideal time to make your point.  For the effort of a simple email to the named secretary or treasurer you can make your feelings heard.  Make it an issue for the AGM.  If you are really keen get it down as a motion and be prepared to speak to it before the meeting.  There are hundreds of thousands of clubs and societies across the country sitting with good solid positive balances all of which could make a massive impact of the style of banking in our countries.  Let’s starve out the poor banks and reward those who actually contribute to their communities.
  7. Unions.  Trades Unions take lots of funds from their members.  Where is your Union banking?
  8. Political parties.  Do they bank with these disreputable institutions?  Does your one take funding from the dark ones?  Might be worth finding out.
  9. Professional Associations.   Now you’re really getting the idea!

10. Speak to and lobby your elected members.  Hey its election year so there is no better point in the electoral cycle to get concessions from your local dufus.  Get the bold boy or gallant gal to state they will reintroduce the split in banks from joined back to independent retail and investment.  Normally Congressmen and women get sack-fulls of mail and emails but if they get a real deluge it will gum up the system a treat and that’s the issue they will knock on the head immediately.  Come on its open door time just get up and give it a damn good shove.

We might not be able to rely on our discredited and useless elected representatives doing this essential work for us.  Indeed  the political system on both sides of the pond is too trapped in the need for the monies from the corrupt discredited parts of the financial services sector for its life to be much help, but by cold canny use of the funds that are available to each and every one of us we can effect change.  It’s your money not theirs so place it wisely.  And you can do it today.

Copyright David Macadam 2012