Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 15 News List

UK bank boss to bankers: Learn from 2012 athletes

DRIVEN BY GOLD:Civic-minded volunteers and focused athletes show a healthy alternative to the money mindset of the nation’s financiers, the central bank chief has said

AP, LONDON

A British supporter is seen with the national flag at the Olympic Park during the London 2012 Olympic Games in London on Saturday.

Photo: EPA

Britain’s scandal-tainted bankers could learn a thing or two from the country’s Olympic athletes, the country’s central banker says.

In a newspaper editorial on Sunday, Mervyn King wrote that the London Olympics showed it was wrong to argue that massive bonuses were needed to motivate people to do well.

King said the success of Olympians and the pride of the 10,000 volunteers at the games showed that “motivation does not come from financial incentives alone.”

“The financial sector has done us all a disservice in promoting the belief that massive financial compensation is necessary to motivate individuals,” he wrote in the Mail on Sunday. “Look at the success of the volunteers whose presence at the Olympic Park and around London did so much to create the atmosphere of happiness that pervaded the games.”

The recent scandals that have rocked Britain’s financial world showed that “banks could learn a thing or two about fair play from the Olympic movement,” he said.

King’s comments come as the reputation of Britain’s banking industry — which took a body blow during the global financial crisis — has hit new a low. British banks have long been in the dock over mis-selling of insurance and interest rate products to consumers and small businesses, but more recent scandals have provided new shocks.

Last month Barclays was forced to pay a US$453 million fine for manipulating a key market interest rate. HSBC, another big London-based bank, faces fines of up to US$1 billion after the US Senate issued a damming report alleging it had failed to stop the laundering of Mexican drug money and back in May, JPMorgan Chase & Co disclosed a surprise US$2 billion trading loss — later upgraded to nearly US$6 billion — racked up by its London office.

Most recent were allegations, out of New York, that UK bank Standard Chartered had spent years laundering Iranian oil money.

King is not the first to argue that British Olympians — who are basking in the glow of a huge haul of gold medals — could set an example for other sections of society.

England football team manager Roy Hodgson said on Saturday that he wanted the country’s football players to behave more like Olympians, underscoring fans’ unhappiness with a “season of shame” marred by two high-profile racism cases.

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