It’s Valentines day and Goldman Sachs is talking about bringing back the love into banking.
Lloyd Blankfein, the notorious CEO who talks about banks doing God’s Work whilst his staff call customers muppets and the media call them the Vampire Squid, is quoted in an interview with Japan’s Nikkei newspaper as saying:
It's going to be a long time before most people in the world are in love with bankers, but that is not going to stop us from working hard to be a better institution.
Yep, it’s going to be a long, long, very long time. Maybe a generation. Maybe more.
I was going to start this week with a serious blog post, but the ABN AMRO kickoff meeting for 2014 has caught everyone’s attention. In fact, it’s made everyone note it so much that I’m going to dedicate today’s blog entry to it.
Why did it grab the attention of all?
Because the Chairman of the Bank, Gerrit Zalm, dressed up as a brothel owner to talk about the similarities between a whorehouse and a bank.
I was wondering how long it would take for a wearable bank app to appear, especially as we now have Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Watch, so it was no surprise to see my friends over at the Financial Brand spot the first release of these services.
It is also no surprise that Banco Sabadell is one of the first to be mentioned, as folks will know if they’ve read my interview with Pol Navarro who heads up innovation there (see postnote).
The report talks about wearable apps for banking being along the lines of alerts, but you can get that via text messaging or something similar, so here’s my vision of the everywear digital future:
I awake and note that the weather today has an 80 percent likelihood of rain thanks to the alert on my pajamas.
As I wash for work, the shower tells me that I have five minutes until the next conference call.
Dripping whilst towelling, the shower interactive communicator screen allows me to videocall with the client.
Damn! I forgot to cover myself. Ah well, all for transparency ay?
Off to the kitchen for coffee, and the fridge informs me that a DM (Direct Message) has arrived from Bob about the call this morning.
I ask the fridge to read it for me, as I’m brewing an Americano coffee.
Bob’s message says: “please don’t bother clients with such small details next time”.
Bob was always a joker.
“Fridge”, I say, “tell Bob to go fook himself”. Note: fook is now the abbreviated form of Facebook.
As I wake up and smell the coffee, I’m aware that I need to get to the City for a meeting by nine.
“How much time do I need to get from here to Cornhill today?” I ask.
“25 minutes”, the fridge replies.
It’s 8:15, so I dash to throw on a suit and then it’s out into the transporter to get to the meeting.
The transporter is like the old Smart cars, but runs on cooking oil, sewage and urine, all things that I seem to have plenty of available, as do most of my colleagues.
My suit has an integrated screen and voice activated lapel that allows me to keep track of all things interesting whilst driving to the meeting, as does the transporter.
“You need to cover these actions today sir”, says my suit as my transporter says, “we are now turning left and will arrive at your destination in 15 minutes”.
“In 15 minutes you have a meeting with Mr. Lombard at Cornhlll sir”, says my suit.
My transporter replies, “Do you want ot go to Lombard or Cornhill?”
“Lombard is correct”, my suit informs the transporter.
“No Cornhill”, says I.
“Rerouting to Lombard Street”, the transporter replies.
As I tell the car to reroute to Cornhlll, my watch loudly instructs: “you have a fitting with Right Gear after your meeting with Mr. Lombard today Chris”.
The transporter starts to turn right and changes gear, whilst my suit starts to argue with my watch about what time the Right Gear fitting will be.
As we hit the transporters driving along the opposite side of the highway, I wonder why we ever had so many devices communicating when all you need is one (it’s called me!).
If you’re interested, the Financial Brand also published a free chapter from my new book. The book includes interviews with many innovators from Pol Navarro at Banco Sabadell to Matthias Kroener at FIDOR Bank to Donald Norman at Bitcoin to Michal Panowicz at mBank and more …
Note: the Financial Brand promotion is now finished but you can buy the book from Amazon anytime.
So I’m buying a house and have a conversation about the house buying process with a bank colleague.
He is adamant that this is where the branch comes into its own.
I disagreed, but accepted that it may be different in different markets, but that all markets are moving in the same direction over time.
He challenged this, so I explained that my mortgage process had involved a search online, the completion of a form online, a number of emails, paper mails and phone calls, and that was it.
In discussing the story and the process, I realised that there had been no requirement for me to physically visit an office to make an exchange in the process.
In fact, the only need for me to get off my butt and do something, was to visit the bank. Not the bank providing the mortgage, but my bank branch to make a payment.
Here’s the story.
We have all of these phrases and meanings that we use every day about money, life and more, but few of them do us really know or think about them in their reality of usage.
For example, where does a slush fund really come from; do you ever sell yourself short; why is something cheap at half the price; when did this place go to the dogs; and how come you can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink?
To find out, here are a few answers with nearly all of them something to do with money, banking and trade.
Blah, blah, blah goes the talking head on the news.
Banks … bad … money … sell … losses …
Groan, moan, dull, boring.
Ripoff … scandal … government … economy … bonuses … fatcat …
Depressing, stop it, shut up, no.
Millions … billions … balance sheet … profits …
AND I HAVE NOTHING!!!!
Yes, that’s what you’re thinking isn’t it?
How the world has changed.
We all realise the world is changing fast when you look back ten, twenty or fifty years. Ten years ago, there was on iPhone or Facebook. Twenty years ago, the end of the Soviet Union, the removal of the Berlin Wall and the aftermath of apartheid were still reverberating around the world. And fifty years ago, the Beatles were enjoying their first success, John F Kennedy was dealing with the Bay of Pigs and the Cuba crisis and the Great Train Robbery takes place in Britain.
As Logan Pearsall Smith said:
"It is the wretchedness of being rich that you have to live with rich people"
Or, as Spike Milligan said:
"Money couldn't buy you friends, but you get a better class of enemy."
But the real point of being rich is to stay close to your friends.
A few wry notes on inheritances and wills ...
SHE: Do you love me just because my Daddy left me a fortune in his will?
HE: No. I'd love you whoever had left you the fortune.
One of the shortest wills ever written:
Being of sound mind, I spent all the money.
A woman left her husband becuase he had a will of his own ... and it wasn't made out to her!
Accountants are an integral part of the financial system, as the holders of debits and credits, cashflow and balance sheets.
Known as boring folks:
A woman went to the doctor, who broke her the dreadful news that she only had six months left to live.
"That's terrible doctor, what should I do?" she pleaded.
"I suggest you marry an accountant", he replied.
"Why? Will that make me live longer?" she asked.
"No ... it will just seem a lot longer."
They're not always boring though:
"My company is looking for an accountant."
"I thought you hired one last week?"
"That's the one we're looking for!"
A bank went out to tender for a new auditor.
They narrowed the choices to three of the Big Four, and invited them in for a final presentation.
The first audit firm did an amazing presentation.
At the end, the bank CEO said: "that was incredible. We would like to hire you but, before we do, I just need to ask one question. What is 256 divided by 4?"
Quick as a flash, the audit partner said: "64, sir."
"Thanks", said the CEO. "We'll be in touch."
The second firm were also highly professional, giving a polished presentation and handing out a beautiful leather-bound book summarising their approach at the end.
The bank CEO responded by saying: "that was a great presentation guys. We would like to hire you but, before we do, I just need to know one thing. What is 128 multiplied by 4?"
The lead audit partner quickly replied: "512, sir."
"Correct", said the CEO. "We'll be in touch soon."
The third firm surpassed themselves and gave an equally compelling presentation about why they deserved to be the bank's auditors.
At the end, the bank CEO asked the same question, but this time wanted to know what 1024 divided by 4 would be.
The lead audit partner took some time to consider his answer, and then said: "what would you like it to be, sir?"
"Congratulations", said the CEO. "You're hired!"
During this crisis, we're all finding ourselves a bit short of cash. By way of example, the UK National Lottery has just announced a special draw to support RBS with a £5 m,illion prize fund ... if you win, you get £5 a year for a million years!
Walking through Waterloo the other day, I saw a couple of down-and-outs sitting with their hands held out for pennies.
I says, "I'll give £10 to whoever is the laziest of you."
The first says, "Give it to me then, as I am the laziest."
The second says, "Put it in my pocket."
Pictures courtesy Photo Bucket and Reader's Digest
A woman walks into a bank with a $100 note stuck in each ear, and says she has an appointment with the manager.
"Oh yes", says the manager when he hears about her arrival.
"I've been waiting for her ... she's $200 in arrears".
Talking of being in arrears, a man walks into a doctor's surgery and says: "Doc, please help me. It's my ear. There's something in there."
"Let's have a look", says the doc. "Goodness, you're right. There's money in there!"
The doctor proceeded to pull out a £50 note.
"I don't believe it", says the doc, "there's more in there", and he proceeded to pull out another £50, some £20's and £10's.
Once all the notes were on the table, the doctor counted the money and says: "Wow, all of this comes to £1,990!"
"Ah yes", says the patient, "that sounds about right. I knew I wasn't feeling two grand."
Image of man from Purple Cow
You may remember Monty Python, as it has shaped many British person's psyche.
The sketches are packed into the Broadway show Spamalot, but one that has been forgetten in the archives is their pastiche on the Money Programme, a core programme broadcast by the BBC from 1966-2010.
In 1972, Monty Python did a skit on the idea and it still has legs today, as it shows why cash is the thing we love the most.
Here's the sketch:
... and if you can't watch the clip, then here's the script:
Opening title sequence and signature tune for ‘The Money Programme’.
Set with presenter and two guests.
Close up on presenter.
Good evening and welcome to ‘The Money Programme’.
Tonight on ‘The Money Programme’, we’re going to look at money.
Lots of it.
On film, and in the studio.
Some of it in nice piles.
Others in lovely clanky bits of loose change.
Some of it neatly counted into fat little hundreds.
Delicate fivers stuffed into bulging wallets.
Nice crisp clean cheques.
Pert pieces of copper coinage thrust deep into trouser pockets.
Romantic foreign money rolling against the thigh with rough familiarity.
(starting to get excited) beautiful wayward curlicue banknotes.
Filigree copper plating cheek by jowl with tumbling hexagonal milled edges.
Rubbing gently against the terse leather of beautifully balanced bank books …
I’m sorry but I love money.
I’ve always wanted money …
(getting worked up again)
… to handle, to touch.
The smell of the rain-washed florin.
The lure of the lira.
(standing on the desk)
The glitter and the glory of the guinea.
The romance of the rouble.
The feel of the franc.
The heel of the Deutschmark.
The cold antiseptic sting of the Swiss franc, and the sunburnt splendour of the Australian dollar.
(sings to piano accompaniment)
I’ve got ninety thousand pounds in my pyjamas.
I’ve got forty thousand French francs in my fridge.
I’ve got lots and lots of lira.
Now the deutschmark’s getting dearer.
And my dollar bill could buy the Brooklyn Bridge.
Five singers (male) in Welsh (women’s) national costume come on. A Welsh harpist joins them.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as money.
There is nothing quite as beautiful as cash.
Some people say it’s folly
But I’d rather have the lolly
With money you can make a smash.
There is nothing quite as wonderful as money
There is nothing like a newly minted pound
Everyone must hanker for the butchness of a banker
It’s accountancy that makes the world go round.
You can keep your Marxist ways for it’s only just a phase.
For its money, money, money.
Makes the world go round.
(a shower of paper notes descends)
Money, money, money, money, money, money!
I'm officially on a holiday for the next two weeks and so will probably not blog, although you never know.
Therefore, in the spirit of keeping in touch with my favourite subject - money - I'm going to leave a few musings, or amuse bouche thoughts if you prefer, about this over the next two weeks instead.
Starting today with some of my favourite quotes about cash.
“The great rule is not to talk about money with people who have much more or much less than you.”
“The rich man and his daughter are soon parted.”
“That money talks, I’ll not deny. I heard it once: it said, ‘Goodbye’.”
“If you would know what the Lord God thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom he gives it.”
“Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.”
“There are two times in a man’s life when he should not speculate: when he can’t afford it and when he can.”
“The only reason I made a commercial for American Express was to pay my American Express Bill.”
“The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once, and put it in your pocket.”
“I have enough money to last me the rest of my life … unless I buy something.”
“I’ve got enough money to last the rest of my life … as long as I die about four o’clock this afternoon.”
“October. This is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks in. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August and February.”
“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.”
Laurence J. Peter
I just found a great website called Not Always Right that tells the staff side of humorous or challenging customer experiences in the USA.
Here are my faves that relate to banks.
There’s an elephant in the room.
Isn’t that a lovely phrase?
It’s meant to say there’s something so big that’s in your sphere of business (or life) that it can no longer be ignored.
For Barack Obama, it’s terrorism.
For David Cameron, it’s the economy.
For Chris Skinner, it’s ubiquitous connectivity.