Friday, July 24, 2009

Standard Bank and ABSA insist on making banking interesting - at our expense

SHOOT: I find it an irony, and a funny but troubling irony that at a time of global contraction, with many banks failing and the entire financial system under scrutiny (and up for review) Standard Bank is talking of 'Moving Forward', and ABSA putting up colorful displays of 'putting your best foot forward'. Actually, what we need to be doing is being more conservative and careful, and banks are going to be regressing - more so than many other businesses. This advertising doesn't reflect that.

If anything we should take a step back and assess the damage done, the change to our circumstances. See, there's actually a collection of businesses that are going to choke in the next few years - they include the remaining automakers [VW, Ford, Mazda, Mercedes and finally the likes of Toyota].

Plenty of banks have already gone under. Remember one of the oldest? Lehman Brothers? The only reason Goldman Sachs is still breathing is because Goldman boyz are in high positions of fiscal authority in the US government and treasury. So the bailouts they have shenaniganned in the name of the US citizen have been swindled into their own Goldman Bros interests.
Property markets are and have been, and will continue to be the ruin of banks, but vehicle finance also forms a large part of their business too. Both gone.

Banking is no longer the domain of the Wall Street Whizz Kids, who whisk in as traders and out as Boyz with Millionaire's Toyz. Oh I know they still think it is. I renewed my credit card (something else that is about to be discontinued soon on a large scale) and in the pamphklet from the bank, in the opening paragraph the words: freedom and financial freedom and peace of mind were emphasised and re-emphasised.

Banks need to go back to the basics. They need to stop charging us for deposits, and withdrawals, and for other ancillary fees. They need to provide loans for credible new businesses and expect proper collatoral in case of default. The other games, with derivatives, and drawing pictures about Middle Earth and moving forward - that belongs to science fiction. Of the past. Not the future. Get real.

More: Krugman of the New York Times recommends Boring Banking.

Thirty-plus years ago, when I was a graduate student in economics, only the least ambitious of my classmates sought careers in the financial world. Even then, investment banks paid more than teaching or public service — but not that much more, and anyway, everyone knew that banking was, well, boring.

In the years that followed, of course, banking became anything but boring. Wheeling and dealing flourished, and pay scales in finance shot up, drawing in many of the nation’s best and brightest young people (O.K., I’m not so sure about the “best” part). And we were assured that our supersized financial sector was the key to prosperity.

Instead, however, finance turned into the monster that ate the world economy.
ANECDOTE: I was in ABSA this morning and saw a beautiful and artistic depiction of feet, a child's ballet feet with the sort of whorly leafy folds in a pixie book, or in Lord of the Rings illustration. I don't know about you, but I'm not a hobbit, and I am in the bank to make a serious transaction.

Meanwhile, the message ABSA conveys (against a climate of growing financial austerity both here and abroad), is:

These feet have been
to a place
where the world cannot hold them down.
To the edge of dreams
where pain is nothing and glory
but a step away.

No matter where your dreams lead you
we'd like to help you get there.

So here you have a major financial institution basically reinforcing this disconnect with reality (I alluded to it below in the media and the financial markets).

The future of banking will boring whether we make this choice or not. Obviously the boyz with their hands in the treasure chest are the last to let go of that fantasy. To our great and continuing cost.

He could state confidently that the world finance and banking system "the way we knew it" had gone.

"That era of Yankee capitalism is over and those days when investment banks received income from off balance sheet activities are over."

It was time for a "back to basics" approach, with banking being the boring businesses it is supposed to be.

The marketing challenges were:
  • to break through the clutter
  • to review its pay-off line
  • “The new creative campaign delivers on the strategy to move our customers and clients forward through making the right connections. This alignment of business strategy and creative approach is what underpins the new Standard Bank pay-off-line of ‘Moving Forward',” said Standard Bank group marketing and communications director Sarah-Anne Orphanides.

    TJDR Prize Winning Campaign for ABSA is a Joke

    Daydream away, experience no pain - what fantasy world of finance is this?
    Because right now a lot of ordinary people are feeling plenty of pain.

    blog it

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