Where’s the Plan?

I was at a luncheon the other day in the City of London to listen to a talk by one of the UK’s MEPs (Member of the European Parliament).

As you recall, the European Union, also known as the “grand experiment”, is an economic and political union of 27 European member states. With a combined population of 500 million inhabitants, in 2010 the EU generated an estimated 28% of the global economy.  As a trading block the EU is the largest exporter and importer of goods and services, and is the biggest trading partner to several large countries such as the United States, China and India.

And, as our London MEP pointed out, the EU is the initiator of a mountain of regulation.

One of the discussions that caught my attention came after the speaker’s remarks on the banking industry.  He verbalized what everyone knows: If there is another financial meltdown, there will be no bailout money for the banks.  Neither the general public nor government has the  appetite to use taxpayer monies a second time to bail out the banks. It just won’t happen.  So, if that is the reality, where is the plan?

Where is the plan, developed by the banks themselves, to avert another crisis?  What plans have they come up with at this point to safeguard their industry and protect the public from another financial crisis?  As the senior business members in the room agreed, the banks need to get their heads together and come up with a plan, because they won’t get another bailout!

So why haven’t the banks come up with their own plan?  The problem with the banking industry coming up with a “save our industry” plan lies in the current culture of banking.  Cooperation and collaboration for the common good is not a part of the cultural vocabulary of today’s financial services industry.  Not only do they savagely compete with each other, internal competition is the norm.  As one senior banker noted, “as an industry we don’t work well together.”  Indeed, by their own admission most banks have a difficult time even getting departments from the same institution to collaborate, let alone work with other institutions collaboratively.

Can such an industry plan be built?  Possibly, but it will take one or two courageous leaders of the major financial institutions to step outside the current mindset of profit “uber alles” and remember that first and foremost the financial services industries were created to help individuals, corporations and nations grow and prosper.  Profit is a by-product of service, not the end goal.

My concern is that unless the banking industry figures out a way to curb its excesses, shift the current culture, and work together to implement safeguards, we will wind up with mega-regulation where everyone loses.

Tight Lines . . .

About johnrchildress

John Childress is currently Visiting Professor in Strategy and Culture at IE Business School in Madrid and a pioneer in the field of strategy execution, culture change, executive leadership and organization effectiveness, author of several books and numerous articles on leadership, an effective public speaker and workshop facilitator for Boards and senior executive teams. In 1978 John co-founded The Senn-Delaney Leadership Consulting Group, the first international consulting firm to focus exclusively on culture change, leadership development and senior team alignment. Between 1978 and 2000 he served as its President and CEO and guided the international expansion of the company. His work with senior leadership teams has included companies in crisis (GPU Nuclear – owner of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plants following the accident), deregulated industries (natural gas pipelines, telecommunications and the breakup of The Bell Telephone Companies), mergers and acquisitions and classic business turnaround scenarios with global organizations from the Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 ranks. He has designed and conducted consulting engagements in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, Africa, China and Asia. Currently John is an independent advisor to CEO’s, Boards, management teams and organisations on strategy execution, corporate culture, leadership team effectiveness, business performance and executive development. John was born in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and eventually moved to Carmel Highlands, California during most of his business career. John is a Phi Beta Kappa scholar with a BA degree (Magna cum Laude) from the University of California, a Masters Degree from Harvard University and was a PhD candidate at the University of Hawaii before deciding on a career as a business entrepreneur in the mid-70s. In 1968-69 he attended the American University of Beirut and it was there that his interest in cultures, leadership and group dynamics began to take shape. John Childress resides in London and the south of France with his family and is an avid flyfisherman, with recent trips to Alaska, the Amazon River, Tierra del Fuego, and Kamchatka in the far east of Russia. He is a trustee for Young Virtuosi, a foundation to support talented young musicians. You can reach John at john@johnrchildress.com or john.childress@theprincipiagroup.com
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2 Responses to Where’s the Plan?

  1. Bill Collins says:

    Bravo!

    Like

  2. Bill. Could you be more vague? ;>) Thanks for your support on such an important topic to us all. Let’s hope more join in the discussion.

    Like

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