With public opinion of the major high street banks taking such a battering recently, it’s rather unsurprising that the banks are attempting to change their image. If anything, it’s shocking that is has taken this long and there have been so many scandals and new pieces of shameful news ready to bubble to the surface.
Since the beginning of the recession, which most people still blame the banks for, bonuses have continued to be huge, banks have failed to play their part in recovering the economy, it’s been revealed that they’ve committed fraud and they’ve been bailed out with taxpayers’ money. Finally, after more than four years, they are giving signs that they want to change their image.
It all started with the resignation of Bob Diamond from Barclays earlier in the year, but now his replacement is claiming that the bank will change from its old ways, rebuilding public confidence and becoming a legitimate business that does not bolster its profits by ripping people off illegally. He has now been joined by the chief executive of Deutsche Bank, one of the firms implicated in the Libor fixing scandal.
The crux of their speeches appeared to be that shareholders have had enough and the banks need to change their attitude. The shareholder meetings held a few months ago saw big rebellions against the top executives at some of Britain’s largest banks as people threatened to deny the highest paid members of the industry their bonuses. This may have accomplished what years of public, media and political pressure could not.
How will they change? Well, one of the points made by Anshu Jain of Deutsche Bank is that bonuses need to be brought under control, and he wants his bank to lead the way. Both banks are setting up commissions to work out what is a fairer pay scale for their employees.
So far we don’t know if the banks will stay true to these promises. Even if they do, this is only one of the reasons that people don’t trust the banks, and more changes, such as fairer rates for savers and borrowers, will be needed if they want to get back into the public’s favour.