Financial professionals need to be able to laugh at themselves
Some of my banking friends have bristled a bit over the fun I poke at bankers from time to time. They forget that I’m not lampooning them but us. I worked for banks for more than 40 years, so every time I giggle at a banker, I’m laughing right at me.
We live in an age when we all seem to take ourselves much too seriously (just witness the letters to the editor on political issues in this very newspaper). There’s an old saying that bears repeating; Bobby Kennedy said it about politicians, Al McGuire about coaches: “You have to be smart enough to do it, and dumb enough to think it’s important.”
This doesn’t apply to every profession. Surgeons, airline pilots, firemen, day care workers, garbage collectors and janitors are exceptions. Bankers are not.
We’re middlemen, facilitators, who grease the movement of a commodity, money. Like they say, “It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.” But our skills aren’t unique; we’re not exactly the stuff of which legends are made.
There’s nothing wrong with being proud of what you do, or with enjoying doing it. I’ve had both emotions. I’ve always loved my work in a bank, and couldn’t countenance not being able to do it in some form until I go to that Great Loan Committee in the Sky. And, from time to time, I’ve been proud of some accomplishments. I’ve also had the beneficial experience of my ego bubble being unceremoniously deflated.
You certainly have to admit that us money changer guys and gals can be pretty funny. In recent years, we often seem to have had a knack of speaking pompously and screwing up globally in a most spectacular fashion. When the world’s biggest bank can lose scores of billions of dollars by one guy in London betting other people’s money, and then say, in effect, “Wow, I wonder how that happened,” you have to chuckle.
If you look at banking in general over the past 10 years or so, and cursorily examine what went on leading up to the Great Meltdown, you have to mouth a wry smile and opine, “What in the world were these people thinking?”
Bankers have certainly been adept at giving themselves a mulligan. Those that walked away often did so with plenty of loot. And the management team of a troubled bank, to my knowledge, never cut their salaries, at least not until the suits from the FDIC showed up at 5 p.m. on a Friday and changed the locks.
So, to my compatriots in the financial industry, bankers, mortgage bankers, mortgage brokers, let’s enjoy what we do, do the best we can for our customers, and try to laugh at ourselves at least once a day.
And here’s an oldie but goodie, directed at us (note the pronoun) bankers:
It’s 98 percent of bankers that give the other 2 percent a bad name.
Pat Dalrymple is a valley native. He’s been in the mortgage and banking business since 1961. He’ll be happy to answer your questions or hear your comments. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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