Appetite For Banking

Posted on 17th June 2015

When I was 18, I wanted a credit card. Quite rightly, the banks wouldn’t give me one. But, two years later, my 20 year old self was still looking for a bank to take him seriously, despite the fact that he’d already started his first business.

My mum told me to go see a guy called Phil at the Nat West. His answer was something along the lines of because he’d known my mum for 15 years, that was good enough for him; he’d help me out and see how it goes.

Not sure how much money they made out of me over the following 25 years through personal and business fees, but it was a good investment on their part I think.

Fast forward to 2015. The bankers* fucked things up less than eight years ago but already seem to have forgotten; jumping on a very high horse about credit, debt and the need to tread carefully.

Whereas in the late 90s / early 2000s I could get money from banks, now it seems I have to jump through shit loads of hoops like a circus act to see if a bank matrix indicates whether they have (and this is a real phrase)… “the appetitive for lending” money to me.

My dumbed-down translation is “We’ll see if we can be arsed to lend to you” but feel free to put that in your corporate jargon fridge and snack on it later.

Deep down, I know I’d fail their matrix… because I am a number in a moment in time – a sheet of paper that defines a much more complex set of circumstances. Anyone who has ever run their own business will understand that.

Sugar Daddy

Meanwhile, I have an Sugar Daddy who lends me money. The balls he has – and the power to say yes – means he prospers from me. He knows me, trusts me, and understands what it takes to actually run a business, because he did it himself successfully. Without him, my current business would not be what it is… Fact.

When I look back, in 25 years of being self-employed, I’ve only ever had one business bank manager who took the time to get to know me and my business (and he built himself a powerful reputation locally) but know he was still handcuffed by formulas and matrices.

Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs?

What chance has a budding young entrepreneur got these days unless they have rich friends and family? Banks will laugh them out of the room, like Gazza being laughed at for telling his teacher he was going to be a Professional Footballer.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and not every egg hatches – I get that. But, the good news is banking is being forced to change. It still has its head up its arse, but the point is if I want money, I can crowd-fund. If I need to send money abroad, I use Transferwise, which swaps money with people transacting the other way.

More and more, banks will have less say in those genuinely life changing moments of someone with get-up-and-go – someone who as the courage and conviction to set up and run their own business.

Welcome to the new economy.

Bankers. Enjoy the ride…. and the view from your high horse… while it lasts.

*An Aside

A bit of generalisation about bankers – mixing retail and investment. I also know a lot of decent guys in banking… well a handful anyway.

By the way, if you thought the world of banking was fucked up, read Flash Boys by Michael Lewis (here’s an overview) – I feel the need… for speed.


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