Banker morality?

Once upon a time I was in my last year of university in the US and it was recruitment time, particularly for the banks. It was what you would call a ‘posh’ university over here, but over there we were very proud of ourselves – I am drifting though.

I duly went to my interview through the ice and snow to be met by a very arrogant representative of this particular bank who had his snow boots on the table. His first question was ‘do you play golf?’ Fact is I had tried (and I have tried since) and failed (and continue to fail). ‘How can you ever expect to be a banker?’ was his next question.

My excuse is that I was in fact quite ill at the time and the next day I was carted off to hospital for a month, so I flippantly answered, that if that was what it took to be a banker, I guess I would never make it.

I believe those words saved my life. The bank was Morgan Guarantee, now known as JP Morgan, then the most prestigious and arrogant bank in New York and currently it appears the second most arrogant one but now in the world.

This is the bank which managed to gamble away £2 billion (and probably more) with the toys used to destroy the global economy in 2007/8. Well done team – you have obviously not learned much – a bit like my golf really. Whilst it was actively gambling Morgan was stiffing the ‘muppets’ (sorry to coin your term for customers Goldman) in the Facebook launch.

JP Morgan is one of the great banks in the world believe it or not, but its morality is more in the gutter than ever. Quite correctly it does not see a need for more regulation and I could not agree more. It is already illegal to be selective in who it passes price sensitive information to in an IPO. No new regulation needed there then – it just needs banks like Morgan to follow existing regulations, but more importantly they should show some morality.

I am eternally grateful to the shmuck who interviewed me for the job at Morgan, which I did not get in case you are interested. I joined another bank but never really made it in banking. I moved to the other side of the table and despite all the frustrations of dealing with banks, I learned a lot, enjoyed the experience and above all I have tried to retain my morality.

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