Hard on the heels of the financial crisis, PPI mis-selling, Libor fixing and derivatives mis-selling we now have further issues inside the industry which threaten to be the start of yet another round of problems.

A secret email from a Regional Director – yes, suitably long in the tooth to know better you would hope, has shown that Lloyds Bank has not learned any of the lessons of the last few years and continues to put pressure on and threaten staff to make sales and that if they fail to meet their targets their bonuses will be cut.

Please indulge me while I take a few lines to explain I think us bankers aren’t all bad and my take on why some of these things have happened….

1 – Business owners always want the most bang for their buck, if you are a bank your owners tend to be shareholders, institutional shareholders who own substantial chuncks of the business and can therefore call a few shots.

2 – In order to comply with the pressure from shareholders, our bosses will set various targets across their business in terms of expected profit or income performance and expected cost performance.

3 – This then filters down the ranks.

4 – In order to fulfill their obligations to shareholders the bank then takes a carrot and stick approach to incentivize us with the carrot of a bonus for target busting performance being dangled in front of the beleaguered employee who knows that it is accompanied by the stick of redundancy.
5 – I’d like to think we have a tendancy to be multi-skilled and can apply these to a variety of different jobs but what we don’t often find is an ability to replace our salary as we are, in general, a well paid bunch.

AND SO AN ATMOSPHERE OF FEAR SETS IN……perform or get sacked becomes the mantra of our own personal hamster wheel. Get in the office earlier, stay later, do what you can to keep your job…..work weekends, work on holiday, make that deal happen….

It leads to stress, mistakes, bad decision making, burnout…..mis-selling…..

And given the boss’s history I think it’s rather a shame that Lloyds is treating its staff like this. They aren’t alone, they are just the only ones who have been caught red-handed by the media.

I reckon that the MAJORITY of the bad things which took place in the banking industry were the result of this sort of pressure and worry. During my own 26 year career in the City I haven’t come across anyone who could be described as a crook, who would be involved in a scam or who didn’t have some kind of best intention somewhere along the line.

What I have encountered is the very fear that I mention above, how people push themselves to the limit in order to perform and support their families, how redundancy has touched every single person I have ever worked with.

Are you touched by this fear, are you in perpetual motion on that hamster wheel where weekends and holidays become just an extended version of work?

I know I have been in that situation and what did I get in return for all my loyalty? The bank I worked for collapsed and my working life hasn’t been the same since.

It’s not what you do, it’s who you work for that generates that fear and if you feel it or have felt it and would rather turn your back on it there is another way to earn a salary where the ethics are down to you, where you control who you work with, where you can work as much or as little as you want because ultimately you are responsible for how much income you generate.