Simon English: In the surreal place called Planet Banker, those in charge are never to blame
The bank's leadership insist that HSBC's issues are a matter of structure rather than culture
Tuesday 31 July 2012
Welcome to Planet Banker, a surreal place where a seeming lack of oxygen seems to affect the eye-sight and hearing of the inhabitants.
Yesterday's conference call with HSBC to discuss their latest extraordinary disasters – half year results, they prefer – took place on this curious planet, a place that gets stranger by the week.
On Planet Banker accidents happen, mistakes even. But they never directly involve the people in charge. The directors express deep regret and say that they are taking full responsibility, but somehow can't see that this is a far cry from actually taking it.
The participants on the call were a bunch of hacks straining to hide their incredulity at what was being said and a bunch of HSBC executives who genuinely seemed to imagine that they were giving frank replies to rather mean questions.
Why are we going on about that cocaine money-laundering thing when their continued capital strength is such a source of reassurance?
That Libor scandal is not to be discussed. We've said all we can. Now about the 12 per cent rise in commercial banking revenues... They did touch on the various scandals, but it seemed to think these things had happened at some other company, with them mere innocent bystanders.
"The banking industry is operating in a hostile climate," said the chairman Douglas Flint, as if HSBC had nothing to do with creating public and political anger at the sector. The bank's leadership – Flint and chief executive Stuart Gulliver – insist that HSBC's issues are a matter of structure rather than culture.
Would his own bonus be affected by the money-laundering fiasco, Gulliver was asked. He pushed back: "That's a matter for the remuneration committee," which sounds very like "no, why should it?"
"We get it," insisted Gulliver, sounding for all the world like a man who does not.
comment simon english
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Licence fee: What is the BBC charge – and how will the changes affect you?
- 3 This is what the photographer has to say about the picture of a weasel riding a woodpecker
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...
£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...