NatWest plan to exit Woodstock on 28th May 2014. This is when they will literally skulk out of the community on the quiet and when they do so they will be:
- deserting their customers – residential and business
- deserting the entire community – the town and the large catchment area
- deserting their shareholders – although they would have them believe the opposite
- deserting any semblance of following their own social responsibility goals
- and quite literally deserting their senses.
One of my favourite quotes from a business person far more successful than those involved with The RBS Group, “focus on your people, more than your profits”, sums up the folly of this decision that originally I found deeply concerning and now I think is simply embarrassing, not only for the company, but for our government too. This decision is driven simply by profit, without any consideration for any of its people – from their staff all the way through to every UK resident. Remember, we bailed the bank out. We have a major interest in that bank returning to profit so we can recover what we put into it as a nation – however, this blinkered decision does not speed this process as NatWest would have us believe. This investment in profit rather than people will not make the bank more money.
Quite simply, NatWest leaving Woodstock will cost us money.
There are examples across the planet that community can achieve anything it chooses. What about banking? Absolutely zero doubt about it. I chose the most obvious example – from an English speaking nation to keep it really simple – where a bank has reinvented itself to be able to play a role in the community. I mean every different community in which it exists, which means many different communities. That is a really big clue for the banks of the UK – contrary to their belief – that one size does not fit all.
Bendigo Bank: not a new challenger bank, but one with roots that go back 150 years. You can check out this Australian success story here, where they explain what being “bigger than a bank means”:
What struck me was this concept that would surely seem so obvious to all those communities that have lost their banks, or are in the process of losing them, and yet seems so alien to the thinking of those that have the power to influence this very type of development in the UK:
“Community Bank® branches provide communities with more than just quality banking services – they deliver employment opportunities for local people, keep local capital in the community, are a local investment option for shareholders and provide a source of revenue for important community projects determined by the local community.”
This is just one flavour of banking that Bendigo has evolved for the benefit of the diverse communities in which their customers are situated. Clever isn’t it? Clearly just a tad too clever for those fine UK institutions that would have us believe that they are all about community and yet make decisions from Head Office that have no consideration of what is occurring for local people. Bendigo Bank have a different way of looking at things: “Community Bank is unapologetically parochial in it’s endeavours”.
It is time for Woodstock to take centre stage in highlighting something that was deeply concerning and now is fast becoming extremely embarrassing…what do you think?