What image do you have of your banker? "Nice, friendly, asks how your dog is doing, etc." That's sweet, right? But I'm not teaching you anything when I tell you that bankers are sharks and all they care about is your money. I have even seen some of my colleagues go through the trouble of memorising the kids' names, their ages and their activities before a client meeting so that once inside they can casually say "so how's little Roger? He must be 9 now, right?" and the client, looking like that, is thinking "oh my God, he is such a nice and caring guy, he remembers Roger".
All this is to get more cash in. And there's NOTHING wrong in that, it's the clients' fault for being so dull!
But some people tend to forget that banks only care about the cash. They couldn’t care less about little Roger getting hit by car on Christmas eve by his own dad! They'd shed a tear for that, but that's about it.
So the banks seem to be doing a good job in diverting this image of "sharks" they have, and people actually believe they're nice and genuine institutions. I mean, look at their slogans, I feel like making "oohhhhh, that's so nice" after each one:
- UBS: you and us
- BNP Paribas: La banque d'un monde qui change (the bank of a changing world)
- Goldman Sachs: Our client's interests always come first
- Morgan Stanley: One client at a time
- Lehman Brothers: Where vision gets built (I guess bankruptcy wasn't one of your visions, huh?)
And so on. They are all so caring for their clients and respect their interests – but God, this cannot be further than the truth – and it works!
Well now there's a new way of attracting clients because it seems that the populace is less gullible and doesn't trust that banks put them first anymore. Thus now, banks cherish YOUR values. Yes, everything you believe in, they believe in it too - and they make a big fuss about it. So let's see, what is the hottest topic today? Hmm...oh, I know, it's climate change! But how the hell is a bank going to be less polluting? It's a service-providing company!
But what do you know? When a banker smells profit, he is willing to go all the way. Crédit Agricole is launching: The Green Banking...with Sean Connery as its spokesman! They even have a quote from Sean: "Back to common sense. It's time for green banking". Woooooow, Sean Connery said that?! This is so cool! But how does it work? Will all my notes be made out of recycled paper?
No. Stop being silly! Crédit Agricole is taking an active role in sustainable development. How? Well it has a four-point plan:
- Offering socially responsible investments (SRI). All banks are doing this already for quite a while now (and Crédit Agricole has been doing it too). At UBS we have an entire SRI department in Zürich; you don't see us bragging about it.
- Supporting the farming world. Giving farmers loans for eco-friendly agriculture. Your name is Crédit Agricole, does that mean that you will stop giving loans to regular farmers? Does that mean that you just started giving loans to sensible farmers whereas other banks were doing so ages ago?
- Working to further employees' career development. How is promoting someone good for the environment?
- And the best one: Combating climate change. And I quote: "In addition to reducing its direct impact on the environment, curbing climate change has been declared a priority for all of Crédit Agricole’s business lines." Basically just lower your electric bill? So you're making this whole fuss just to tell us that you are going to reduce your electric bill and recycle your waste?!? Lame.
I have seen green cars, green planes, green agriculture, green shampoo; but green banking? Does that even make sense? What's next, green polluting?
One thing counts for banks: making profits. One thing counts for a banker: his bonus. That's about it.
And banks are huge; do you know how much money governments have spent on them in the past couple of years? Something like several trillions of dollars. With that we could have eradicated world hunger; but hey, World Hunger doesn't have such a good marketing & advertising campaign manager.