So it’s late at night and we reach that point in the evening where it’s almost embarrassing.
I love you man. You’re my best and only friend in the world, y’know what I mean?
Having gone past the point of talking about whether the Pope is really a money launderer and Obama is actually a drug runner’s prayer answered, we start talking about us. Are we really who we say we are? If you were an animal, what animal would you be (a monkey), a flower what flower (snap dragon) or a colour, what colour (magnolia with a hint of lilac).
Then one of the group pipes up: so let’s stop talking about us, but let’s talk about banking. A big groan. If banking were a movie, what movie would it be?
Oh dear. That’s really inappropriate as the first answer is The Titanic. No one likes that answer, and this view is juxtaposed with The Hangover. Then we argue about whether it’s Hangover 1, 2 or 3.
Being British it’s not long before I raise the obvious: Banking is like Monty Python’s Life of Brian.
Q: What have the bankers ever done for us?
A: Made money available when you don’t have it?
Q: (Big sigh) Apart from credit, what have the bankers ever done for us?
A: Well, ABC Bank gave me a mortgage so I could buy a house?
Big discussion about whether bankers were the pawns of the Government trying to enslave us all to debt.
Q: Apart from making us all fall under the burden of debt, what have the bankers ever done for us?
You get the idea. It soon moved on from bad Python sketches from Life of Brian to bad Python sketches generally.
This bank is a former bank. It is no more. It has ceased to exist.
Yes, one of the group used to work for Washington Mutual.
The one female in the group who had bothered to stay up this late in the bar chimed in with banking being more like the Wizard of Oz.
WTF? the guys replied.
Well, she said. In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy goes off to see this big scary guy and ask for help along with the Lion, Tinman and Scarecrow. That’s just like how most people feel about going into a branch.
Eyes move ceiling-ward as we get the counterpoint view from the big jock guy: If you put it that way, then I vote for Terminator.
Yea, Terminator. Big scary guy who takes you out if you don’t pay back. That’s why he says: I’ll be back.
Oh Jeez, it’s so late, I need to go to bed.
There’s then a small huddle on the other corner and John Doe says that the banking industry would be best represented by the film It’s a Wonderful Life. Yea, says Jack Jock. It makes you feel suicidal.
At this point, we wistfully track through the years and, thanks to yours truly, start talking about Metropolis and The Hunger Games, as in the banking industry is part of the government’s plan to keep society under control through debt again. It’s all about the 1% being in control of the 99%. Mary comes back with the fact that you can’t typify the industry in one movie anyway, as the investment markets are like The Wolf of Wall Street whilst most banking is more like Forrest Gump. Hmmm … banking is just like a box of chocolates. You just never know what you’re gonna get.
That worked for me, although we then debated Wolf of Wall Street versus Wall Street, and Wall Street won. That got us off another tangent, with the counter-argument that banks are Predators and some are Aliens, whilst mine is more like The Blues Brothers and yours is just like The Godfather.
In other words, there is no typical bank. They’re all different and none are the same (I am the same, as Brian would say). Some are good and some are bad; some are friendly and some are sad; some are good and some are fun; whilst others are bad and should be on the run.
The only thing we all agreed upon, at the end of the evening, is that most banks would fit well with The Shawshank Redemption.
Parole Officer: We see by your file you've served seven years of a life sentence. You feel you've been rehabilitated?
Banker: Yes, sir. Absolutely. I've learned my lesson. I can honestly say I'm a changed bank. I'm no longer a danger to society. That's the God's honest truth. No doubt about it.
Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...