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Trust Me. I'm a Banker

Alan Smith

I know I am getting on but it used to be that along with the doctor and the local bobby, the bank manager was one of the few people in whom you could put your faith that he would do the right thing.

He would sign your passport photos, offer sage words of solid advice about the mortgage and generally be seen to be one of the go-to guys when you really needed it.

Not any more.

It seemed bad enough when the last banking crisis required the public to bail out many of the high street operations. Following that, in a poll carried out by Ipsos MORI for the BBC, the public was asked whether the fact that the banks were now back in profit had restored trust in bankers. Of those polled, 70% said it hadn't. I suspect if done tomorrow, after this week's revelations, that figure would be even higher.

Barclays is only one of a number of global banks being investigated for further tainting the credibility of Libor, the benchmark figure that largely determines the adjustable lending rates for credit cards, student loans and many mortgages.

The emerging scandal has touched off a firestorm engulfing the London financial world, with Prime Minister David Cameron this week announcing a broader inquiry into banking standards that is set to haul some of the globe's most powerful financiers before a parliamentary committee.

Trust comes from being seen to do the right thing despite the impact it may have on you as an individual. In the reality of the tough commercial world that we live in that is a hard call to make.

When I set up my business in 1991 we invited three advisors in to talk to us about cover for our workforce (all 3 of us). Two of them tried to sell us key man insurance, expensive permanent health cover and a pension scheme.

The third said we would be much better of calling him in a couple of years and to take all the spare cash we had and invest it in the business.

That is precisely what we did. In the long term his 'trusted advice' was the best advice for him as well as us.

Nietzsche said " I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you"

If you want to create an environment that develops creativity in thinking and value development in your negotiations you would do well to do whatever you can to foster trust.

And you can take that to the bank.

Alan Smith

Partner, Scotwork UK LLP





Alan Smith
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