Opening Statement

East AngliaDon’t get too excited but I’m starting a new project. Not true, really I am returning to previous work but was so disenchanted last time by my local adminisrators I moved on. There’s no point in flogging a dead horse.

This time I’m more hopeful. A local group (of international renown) recently decided to look at social welfare and institutions: two distinct projects. Both are significant, and in my enthusiasm I wanted to be involved with everything!

Age has tempered me. So I took time before offering to look at banking and financial institutions. What a minefield that will be.

You may recall that I wanted to start a local bank. That’s now a few years ago. It was to be the Iceni Bank, serving Eat Anglia, home of the Iceni tribe, whose Queen was Boadicea (or Buddica), wife of Prasutagus. A fine, brave woman who fought the Roman invaders.

She is a good icon to spearguard a look at our financial systems today. They are in need of examination, and I’ll admit that like Boadicea I’m keen to look upon them as she looked upon Colchester under Roman occupation.

Where to start: obviously at the existing state, and without an exhaustive budget or willing team only the surface can be scraped.  We have the existing commercial banks, well-known on High Streets (at least now). Elsewhere there are many other banks, mainly investment vehicles, most of which do not intrude upon the public, and building societies and credit unions.

Very few of the major players are wholly-owned British companies, falling victim to that modern affliction known as globalisation.

I will start by gathering together a team: do you want to join? Or just make a contribution, give your views, on banks and banking. It will be interesting.

Apart from stating the obvious, what do we do now? I’d like to move on. My basic null hypothesis is ‘what we now have doesn’t work’ That’s enough for a PhD thesis. I’m not alone at looking at our current structures and throwing my spats in the air. It needs change. We are so confused we’ve even dragged a Canadian over here to act as the Governor of the Bank of England. It’s part of a new British disease, hire a foreigner, because we don’t have anyone within our 65 million population capable of doing anything.

The obvious will be stated. Then what? With a big enough team there are many cul-de-sacs to explore. Like all professionals bankers like to confuse. Treat us like mushrooms (keep in dark, feed on bullshit). One way to confuse them is to look at it all with different eyes. I am an LSE graduate, so know very little about economics, at least in the conventional sense. There are some ideas that deserve exploration. I’ll give you an idea, just to whet your appetite.

One is the German Savings Banks Finance Group (Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe) is the most numerous sub-sector with 431 savings banks using the Sparkasse brand., they have assets that exceed $1 trillion. These are all commercial banks working independently, usually serving local areas. Together they handle about 40% of Germany’s banking needs, through 15,000 offices employing 250,000 people. This is now a comprehensive network that deserves proper examination.

Sounds interesting. Let’s take a look at all this.

Also explore Dr Richard Werner at Southampton University: a man to follow.