Banks are not the only bullies


It’s not only at corporate level that banks are devoid of ethical values. Some of their employees are equally blind, even in comfortable retirement.

Consider the case of retired financier Peter Bayliss and his wife Kim. While Mr Bayliss waited to inherit his mother’s house, he took a keen interest in the property, especially the amount of cash it would one day put into his pockets.

He noticed that a neighbour was using a right of way across the bottom of the garden, as she had for twenty years. He didn’t like this. He thought it might reduce the value of his mother’s house. It had to stop.

This neighbour is 69, deaf and lives alone. She used to be a carer, and continues to help others after her retirement. She is a church warden. What a frightening and formidable character!

He took her to court to stop her using the right of way, and lost. When she tried to use it, he physically attacked her. He then reported to social services and the police that she had attacked him. He tried to have her declared insane.

You can see why. If he could get her carted away, no-one would claim the right of way and he could get a few pounds more for the property.

Happily, this creature got his come-uppance in court, and has had to pay more in costs and damages than the property was worth. The interesting thing to me is the way that this demonstrates a banker’s view of what constitutes decent behaviour.

I know that you shouldn’t tar everyone with the same brush. There are plenty of bank workers who are perfectly sound individuals. There are plenty who are not.

This comes at a time when the leaders of the Big Six banks have undergone an epiphany. They have asked Sir Richard Lambert to show them how to get their employees to act ethically towards customers.

I am not going to be cynical. I genuinely wish him success. If he can bring this off, then we will all benefit. He is going to have some difficulty, though, if some of these employees, even if they are in a minority, have Mr Bayliss’s attitude towards the well-being of other people.

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