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Friday, September 16, 2011

Captain Mainwaring, the fictional bank manager at Dad's Army and our present bankers, are as far apart as ever.

Just when you thought it could not get any worse for the bankers, up pops another episode in this squalid serial. £1.3 billion going astray at the Swiss bank, UBS.

I started my career in The City. “My word is my bond”, was an expression one frequently came across. Reputation, trust and probity counted for much.

Bankers' bonuses and dodgy financial instruments had faded into the memory, only to be brought back to life this week, with the Vicker’s Independent Commission on Banking.

Bankers and government hope that separating retail and casino banking will be kicked into touch until after the next election. We are assured everything is in order, but along comes an employee at UBS Investment Bank, to remind us that allegedly rogue traders may still be around. Have we learned nothing since Nick Leeson at Barings in 1995?

Whatever the reality, the perception amongst Joe Public is that still there is something wrong with the ethics and activities of bankers. It may be one of our most important contributors to our economy and pragmatism dictates that we don’t kick it into touch.

The British public has an innate sense of fair play and banks remain on the wrong side of the fence in our perception of their worth and values. Captain Mainwaring may be out of place today, but his sense of values may be just what our society needs now.

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