Business Diary: The black horse tries to gallop on

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The Independent Online

At least the folk at Lloyds Banking Group haven't lost their sense of humour. The Diary was delighted to receive a Christmas card from Eric Daniels, the bank's boss, over the weekend. It features a poignant photograph of a black horse gamely battling thorough a blizzard. Could there be a more appropriate metaphor for a bank that on Friday was forced to announce it is expecting to be saddled with billions more pounds of bad debt thanks to the deteriorating state of the Irish economy?

The FSA's very own angel

The Financial Services Authority, the chief City regulator, has sought to be tougher with its charges since the credit crisis exposed it as having been asleep at the wheel. Still, it has not entirely lost its human touch. Its website invites firms to make crucial data reports via a tool it has named Gabriel (it stands for GAthering Better Regulatory Information ELectronically). If only it could trust them all to be good little angels.

Shut the door on your way out

Sometimes, one can only wonder at the fantastically blinkered attitude of some in the City. A survey from the recruitment company Astbury Marsden landed on our desk: it reveals that 48 per cent of financial services workers will consider changing profession if their bonus payment disappoints them this year. Their bosses must be absolutely terrified: after all, unemployment is at an all-time low and many industries are paying out huge bonuses to underperforming staff. Oh hang on, that's not quite right.

Not so ethical after all

What looks like a positive piece of news for our poor benighted business folks arrives, in the form of a survey from an outfit calling itself the Institute of Business Ethics. It says that almost six in 10 people in Britain – 59 per cent to be exact – think British businesses behave ethically. Making up that portion are 56 per cent who think businesses are "fairly" ethical, and 3 per cent who rate them as "very" ethical. Happy days – though cynical folk with a glass-half-empty attitude might point out that the survey implies 41 per cent of Britons regard the country's businesses as unethical. Hardly the most ringing of endorsements.