The answer is simple, for the answer is NO! This conclusion I reached the other night whilst dining with my boyfriend at Byron Burger, Canary Wharf. Sat down, we started to tuck into our burgers, when a group of individuals took up a table to my immediate left. Over the course of the next 30 minutes or so, they began talking quite audibly, in such a manner I didn’t even have to strain my ears to pick up their conversation. They seemed to be talking very frankly.
At first it all started off innocently and without any eyebrow raising stuff, but this proved short lived. After talking about various IT packages, a comparison exercise of what they use in the USA and here in London, they digressed onto a alternate topic, which I had to bite my tongue on a number of occasions. Indeed, it would have been rude and imprudent of me to interject, after all I was sat off their table. The conversation went a little like this:
‘work is not going too badly in our department, it seems to have settled down a bit no’ one of them said. The proceeded to say that “people are stupid and naive”…”they don’t understand the situation we have to deal with.”
Then it continued “these people don’t understand, it’s all about smoozing up to politician and other interested parties…a bit of work here and there, followed by long lunches, a bit more work, before long dinners entertaining with booze and the such like.”
They made is all sound like a PR stunt. Something jovial, as opposed to serious stuff that it should be treating it. We are in financial world turmoil, people are losing their jobs for Christ sake. In my opinion it was evidence of ‘self-greed’ and one of painting over the cracks and not tackling the problems at hand, being more worried about the personal implications on their bonuses, than anything major. The issue to them seems to be one of headline profit lines, and how this reflects in their own pay packets. This needs to change.
Their attitude was arrogant, talking up how good they are and that the general public shouldn’t get involved when they know nothing. Yeah, but it is them facing the job losses and the pressures of family life, not them. They made it seem about when they can get their next Porsche, not about having to pay for life’s essentials. Finishing “they aren’t competent like us to deal with such issues.”. Well if they were so competent, how come we are in this position? As you can see, I had considerable difficulty biting my tongue.
So yes, I believe the rumour of government intending to bring greater transparency to top executive pay in the banking sector especially, should be welcomed. Nonetheless, I have my misgivings, and do not think in practice that it will change a darn thing. I feel it is going to be a short lived pipedream, and even if enacted, nothing really will change at all. Plus: (I) it’s not practical in the real world, plus (ii) it smacks in the face of the whole premise of any Conservative based government, who very much believe in the free market, and market self-correction, not to mention regulation.
I also think is this another PR stunt, another slight of hand, and new way of representation. Let’s take the Labour Party, who had the saying: ‘tough on crime and the causes of crime’. Did anything really change, or was it reclassification of offences, to make it look like thefts were decreasing by the way they were classified, along with other criminal acts? I am inclined to think it was a PR stunt and that nothing really changed. The question now is this a period of the Conservatives saying ‘tough on financial crisis, and the causes of financial world turmoil?’ Or as I would put it, the Archalese heel of this government, an issue that will never go away. Indeed, this would seem to be confirmed by the transfolding of the present EU talks about to commence concerning a change in the Treaty, and David Cameron wavering, and appearing to have his hands tied. This seems to be supported also in recent articles in the Financial Times.
So yes, bankers need a wake up call, and a big one soon, along it’s world leaders. We aren’t doing enough, and we are only at the tip of the iceberg. The honest answer, which I believe, is that no one knows what to do, it’s all a guessing game in this unprecedented time in history. Let’s hope that something productive and constructive will happen soon, god knows its very overdue.