EDITOR'S LETTERMerryn Somerset Webb
The bankers’ oath
This week the name of the fare-dodging fund manager was unveiled. Jonathan Burrows skipped paying his train fare from Kent to London for five years, said the Daily Mail, and then tried to avoid anyone finding out by paying out £43,000 in back fares. That didn’t work.
The police and the Financial Conduct Authority investigated and Burrows has now resigned from his smart job at BlackRock. This is a fascinating story for all sorts of reasons, but for me, the most interesting bit is how Burrows held down his job for as long as he did.
Why? Because he has the kind of attitude to risk that you really don’t want the person looking after your money to have – the one that considers it reasonable to take massive reputational and financial risks for relatively small gains (or thrills). I wonder why no one at BlackRock noticed earlier.
Last week also saw the launch of a report from ResPublica (Virtuous Banking: Placing ethos and purpose at the heart of finance), which suggested that bankers should be made to take an oath to “fulfil their proper moral and economic purpose”, as is now the case in the Netherlands.
They’d promise to do their “utmost to behave in a manner that prioritises the needs of customers”, to “confront profligacy and impropriety” wherever they encounter it; and to note that “the conduct of bankers can have dramatic consequences for society”.
• Read the full editor’s letter here: The bankers’ oath