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A bank CEO should be better

I annoy a lot of people. I don’t mean to. But anyone with a description of ‘troublemaker’ is going to annoy someone. What’s interesting is the different reactions I get from start-ups, technology firms, banks and internet giants.

In general, the ones who seem to get most irritated by me are banks. It shouldn’t be, but it seems to be. It shouldn’t be as I’m not actually a bank basher. I love banks. I’m just critical of them as many are not getting their strategy right, and I want to help them. This is why my main source of provocation is targeted at them, and is why start-ups, technology firms and internet giants quite like me. But I also think it’s because banks haven’t been challenged so directly by people in the past, and particularly not by the media.

I know this from dealing with a lot of bank media in my years, and most of them are beholden to the banking community. Their advertising and sponsorship comes from these guys, and the last thing they want to do is alienate them. Equally, a lot of banks are still fairly anally retentive. They don’t like some maverick pointing at their executive team and calling them old, asking where their digital mindset is and asking if they could even spell distributed ledger technology, let alone explain how it works.

But I’m sorry, that has to change. If you are never challenged in your work, you end up with zero change in your work. If you surround yourself with yes people, then you never think you are wrong … even if you’re walking naked down the street in the emperors’ new clothes. If you don’t want to be criticised, don’t take a senior role in any institution.

This came home to me the other day when a friend said I’d alienated their CEO with a blog I wrote. I said that that seems weird, as I write the blogs purposefully to challenge. I do it to challenge myself, my readers and the way in which people are thinking on purpose. I often write blogs that I don’t agree with … just to see if they get a reaction. How could someone be alienated by what I wrote?

They then told me it was that ageist thing I wrote about the boardroom lacking diversity.They felt it was specifically about them, and said that we must never entertain a dialogue with Chris Skinner.

I was a bit surprised by this but it’s no skin off my nose. This bank had not done much work with me anyway and I wasn’t that bothered if they don’t like me. A lot of people don’t like me. I can deal with it because a lot of people do like me.

It’s that old thing about you cannot please all of the people all of the time, but just aim to please some of the people some of the time. Oh, and if a bank CEO is so sensitive that they can take extreme offense to words on a blog about a lack of diversity … maybe you should replace the CEO.

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

About Chris M Skinner

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...

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