Are bank chief executives human?

Tomorrow's Business

My question is rhetorical. They are. They have families and friends just like anyone else. My point is that they frequently seem to be trying so hard to sound otherwise.

Santander had some fairly ordinary numbers out today.

Growth in the UK is down, which explains recent plans to close branches and cut jobs.

One in five branches will close, 1200 jobs are at risk.

Now this news is “old”, as far as the bank is concerned – it was announced in January. For the people affected, it will feel like yesterday, and it is on-going. It hasn’t been done yet.

Today’s quote from Santander’s UK CEO Nathan Bostock makes no direct mention of it. Instead, he sounds like a robot: “We have accelerated out multi-year strategic transformation programme….the steps we began to take last year to actively manage costs are continuing to have a positive impact on our cost base”.

I don’t want to be too hard. This is a stock exchange announcement, not a eulogy. And, as TB has reported before, we’ve seen a lot worse. It just needed a nod to what “strategic priorities” really mean, and a quick use of the word “sorry”.

Bostock sounds a bit like a guy giving a speech at a funeral who starts with the words: “Recent cuts to the cost base should enable this family to move forward together.”

Everyone in church would look at each other and wonder: what’s wrong with that guy?

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