I’ve gotten into this habit of using the SIBOS closing party to do something a little bit on the edge. Controversial, but meant to be funny.
Last year I was the world’s hottest banker …
… and this year I was anonymous …
The problem is that I wasn’t.
I was spotted and it didn’t take long before the party police closed in, asked me for my SIBOS id and then asked for the disguise to be removed.
I was surprised but not, as the mask is a bit of a shocker.
A mask hides your identity and turns you into someone else.
Unlike last year, where everyone thought the hottest bank rock star outfit was an amuse bouch, I walked around the Osaka-jo Hall and felt very uncomfortable.
Uncomfortable with the looks I was given by everyone in the room and uncomfortable in the mask.
Most turned their faces away, and I felt relegated to a new underclass, to be ignored and driven out.
The virus Anonymous had entered the room and needed to be driven out.
But I was only wearing a mask.
Just a $5 plastic mask from a joke shop.
It just made me realise how I was lucky to be able to remove the mask and revert to being Chris.
Same t-shirt but no mask, and instant acceptance.
It was an amazing experience, and it brought home to me how the Occupy movements’ bravado should be admired rather than admonished.
Or, as the Bank of England’s Andy Haldane put it:
It is now over a year since the Occupy movement commenced its journey and entered the collective conscience of the public and policymakers. One year on, what has it achieved?
Some have suggested rather little, that Occupy’s voice has been loud but vague, long on problems, short on solutions. Others have argued that the fault-lines in the global financial system, which chasmed during the crisis, are essentially unaltered, that reform has failed.
I wish to argue tonight that both are wrong – that Occupy’s voice has been both loud and persuasive and that policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines. In fact, I want to argue that we are in the early stages of a reformation of finance, a reformation which Occupy has helped stir.
Bear in mind that these guys are now the industry’s regulators ... so stop being upset by a mask and go and talk to the people.
Just as I talked to the people last year about bankers, and they equally ignored my message, this rift of the bankers versus the people is caused more by prejudice than understanding.
Here’s to less prejudice about the colour of your skin, ethnicity, sex, religion ...
... oh yes, and plastic masks.