Aren’t we optimistic?

It will take five to 10 years to rebuild public trust in banks. That’s not my assessment. This is what Antony Jenkins, the Group Chief Executive of Barclays said recently . Well, he knows a thing or two, as the banking world has been plagued with problems: from mis-selling insurance to rigging exchange rates to exorbitant bonuses for under-performers. Not to mention normal problems with non-working computers or incompetent support personnel. I experienced all of those, so that I know.

It is funny that he picked 5 to 10 years for the change. It is funny because the average tenure at his level is less than five years. What he effectively said is that he will not solve the problem of the lack of trust; he will leave it to the next overpaid executive. He will just make a lot of noise about it and then will move somewhere else while collecting his large bonuses.

If I were him, I would have picked 20 years, not 10. Twenty years is the generational change. The new generation of customers come, looking for someone to trust, inexperienced in the level of greed and criminal incompetence we experienced. They are easy to be deceived and they are easy to build trust with. It is also a lot cheaper to woo a new generation than repair trust with the old one.

Meanwhile, I used Trust-O-Meter to quantify my trust in banks, including Barclays. It came at the unimpressive 20%, bearing the warning that I have to balance trust and control. That I have to be prepared to be disappointed. To have my trust breached. Not a great start.

Still, Happy New Year.

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