Uncalled for secrecy in public places

Tomorrow's Business

From a PR point of view, big banks have several problems. First is that they are massively complex institutions that are very hard for ordinary folk (including banking correspondents) to understand.

The numbers involved, especially the profits, sound absurd to normal ears.

Second is that the people at the top get paid ridiculous amounts of money that cannot possibly be justified by their own skills. As my grandad used to say: if you work in a biscuit factory, you get free biscuits. If you work in a money factory…

I think banks increase these problems by being unnecessarily secretive about their own operations. Sometimes just getting a big bank to tell you how many people work for it, especially if they are foreign and operating in London, is banging-your-head-against-a-wall.

Too many of the flaks involved here seem to delight in keeping such mundane data secret. Like they’re in a club to which you are not invited, even if it is plainly the most boring club in history.

I like to ask my favourite secretive bank how many traders work on, say, the derivative desk, just to hear them insist this is market sensitive information.

Since their rivals already know the answer, it’s hard to see how. Especially since they are happy to let me to visit and walk around said trading desk, when I could count the number of staff if I really cared.

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