Business Diary : Bankers under fire once more

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To the British Bankers' Association annual conference where delegates arrived to be greeted by a small group of protesters unhappy about the Royal Bank of Scotland (and Royal Bank of Canada) funding oil-sands projects in Canada. The bright purple hair of one protester brightened up a grey day, but did the 28-page newspaper being handed out to the very people against which the protests were aimed attract many readers? Perhaps the paper – let's just hope it was recycled – could have been put to better use?

Self-deprecation from the US

The biggest laugh of the morning at the BBA came from Louis B Susman, the US Ambassador, who was on stage to talk about America's financial reform bill. "You can always trust the Americans to do the right thing," he said. "After they have eliminated all the other possibilities." Boom, boom.

The irritating buzz of auditors

From a diplomat with a sense of humour to an accountant. Bill Michael, UK head of financial services at KPMG, described being an auditor as "probably like being the only fan with a vuvuzela at Wembley. Not only is he irritating and gets in your way – you can blame him if your team loses". Ho ho. He went on to suggest that if you support England that is probably the only entertainment you can get. Yes, he's an Aussie.

You've been a lovely audience

Still, at least Michael was prepared to stick his head above the parapet – most bankers seem to be a little more shy and retiring. Given the chance to interrogate the boss of the biggest bank in the planet, HSBC's chairman Stephen Green, no one could think of a question. The BBA's boss and session chairman Angela Knight was reduced to forlornly casting around for help from an unforgiving audience until finally a female delegate came to her rescue, asking Green what he thought of the idea of banks too big to fail should be broken up. Naturally, he thought it was a terrible idea. Now that couldn't have been a plant, could it?