Odd one out

This week I’d like to go all interactive on you… yes, I have a short quiz.

Well, I say quiz, it’s more like one question really.

Have a look at the list of people below and tell me which of them is the odd one out and, more importantly, why. And before you shout at your screen ‘they’re all pretty odd’ can I just say I’ve already done that joke in my own head and wasn’t going to put it in!

Anyway, here’s the list:

  • Lord Stevenson: former chairman, HBOS
  • Sir Fred Goodwin: former chief executive, RBS
  • Andy Hornby: former chief executive, HBOS
  • Sir Tom McKillop: former chairman, RBS
  • John McFall MP: chairman of Treasury Select Committee
  • Alastair Darling: Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Gordon Brown: Prime Minister and former Chancellor
  • Sir Terry Wogan: ex-presenter of Radio 2’s Breakfast Show

I would imagine you’re thinking Sir Terry?

You’re quite right.

But why?

Nope, you’re quite wrong.

He’s the only one of this group who has any kind of formal banking qualification!

Worrying, isn’t it? And it kind of says it all…

I can remember my banking exams (yes, I am a qualified banker); particularly lessons on liquidity ratios, prudence in banking and more prosaic advice, such as ‘it’s not the bank’s money you’re lending, it’s your grandmothers’ and ‘if someone wants an answer immediately, that answer is ‘no’’!

The other thing I can remember about banking exams is that when I first sat them pretty much as soon as I joined dear old Midland Bank I found them really difficult. When I sat them again after I’d been in for a couple of years, they were very much easier because I’d seen the theory in action.

I can’t help wondering whether, if these guys had been through their banking exams, we wouldn’t be in the mess we find ourselves. Of course, it’s a question we can never answer and it’s by no means certain that we would be in a better place!

After all, modern banking is about more than, well, banking.

It’s about shareholders, customers, profitability, expansion, growth, liquidity, cash flow… no wait a minute! It is all about banking after all.

I recently blogged about the government scheme for compulsory training, which I’m against and I certainly wouldn’t tell someone they have to go on a course f or a courses sake. But surely there is a case for having properly qualified people in charge of these institutions.

After all, you wouldn’t let a surgeon work on you unless you knew he had been properly trained… but then again, when was the last time you asked a doctor for a look at his certificates?

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