Monday, 6 July 2009

How we'll know that banks have changed

Banks aren't the most popular institutions right now. I'd go so far as to say that they are a trifle disliked. It was fascinating watching Top Gear yesterday, when the presenters had a big crowd of bankers out in the heart of the City at London, looking at three cheap and nasty cars. They pointed out that they were doing the nation a favour, because by distracting all these people from their work, they were stopping them losing us money. The bankers laughed, as if they got the joke.

The problem at the heart of banking, I would suggest, is that they have never seen themselves as providing a service to the public. Instead, they've always seen themselves as doing the public a favour by deigning to lend us money, or keep our savings safe.

How will we know they've really changed? When bank branches are open, fully functioning, the same hours as shops. Late night shopping on a Thursday? Late night banking too, please. And when we don't witness everything stopping for the weekend. Why is it they can't process transactions over the weekend? It is, frankly, pathetic that everything grinds to a halt for 48 hours. Haven't you heard of 24/7, guys?

When we see banks really operating for our convenience, rather than their own - that's when we'll know they've got the message.

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