Sunday, 6 September 2015

Summer Message #2 - 2015

Still today, some seven years on from the initial impact of the 'Great Recession', both the general public and responsible financially informed alike seek that a vital financial sector is regenerated as a very stable, trustworthy and long-lived hub of the nation's economy.

To this end, many have looked to the past, a past during which highly reputable, stake-holder centric entities flourished, alongside the older classical banking system.

This sentiment once again relayed by a contribution to the FT Weekend's letters page.

The letter from a Mr David Cole of Dunmow, Essex, UK is as follows:

“Dear Sir, Challenger banks? What nonsense.

So called 'challengers' are simply fledgling capitalists waiting to grow-up and repeat the same follies as the big boys. The last challengers were the building societies that demutualised and turned themselves into banks – look at what happened to them. Does anything better illustrate the poverty of our post-crash thinking?

Unless we encourage other models as part of a robust mix including mutuals and co-operatives, having a diversity of aims, values and ownerships, we will be stuck with a banking system driven by greed and short-terminism. The many will continue to enrich the few and we will be poorly served to face the next crisis”.

This undoubtedly the broad feeling across not only the UK, but North America and Europe also.

Although seemingly flippant, to this end, the core messages about responsible, fair and socially useful banking resonates from films from the past; 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'Mary Poppins' prime examples.

But perhaps the most prosaic is that of the far lesser known 'The Card' (of 1952), adapted from a novel by Arnold Bennett and starring a young Alec Guinness.

The plot depicts the fictional life of Edward Henry Machin, known as Denry, starting out from humble beginnings he demonstrates drive, enthusiasm and daring, yet also reflects a social consciousness which with maturity and success also engenders humility; all of which balances his capitalist instinct and fervour for the general good of his locale, known as 'Five Towns'.

Starting out as a clerk he inverts problems into opportunities, initially acting as a rent collector and ethically inclined money-broker to the poor, on holiday recognising the opportunity to create a shipwreck tourist attraction using a cheaply bought part-wrecked rowing boat, recognises the local opportunity to create a 'thrift-society' with allied consumer credit-facility, grocery discounting and quality, enabled through economies of scale, and lastly enables the struggling town football team to secure a leading football player to turnaround its fortunes.

Critically though, where once his ambitions were purely personal, as he ages and gains success, his horizons widen with positions of increasing councillor and mayoral influence for the betterment of all.

The western world is today a very different place to the Victorian-Edwardian era of Mr Machin, yet more than ever, those ideals conveyed to 1950s Britain - itself then on a new path of socio-economic growth – are perhaps even more prescient.

Thus, investment-auto-motives applauds those who today  likewise seek to add true value(s) - the new generation of Denrys.

[NB But please be aware that there will be those, who having abused the trust of others to their own advantage, will espouse their supposed belief in social values, just to re-run their disingenuous modus operandi. See a person for their true nature and actions, shown in many small ways, not necessarily from their words].