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How soon before a major bank has a United Airlines moment?

13 April, 2017Peter Hahn

We’ve all seen the horrible video and the awful insincere apology, but the most important United Airlines message is the disconnect between their senior management and staff and their product. Banks should take notice. 

Since the financial crisis, top bank managers have spent days with employees in branches and been seen in the canteen but do they actually have the same bank accounts as most of their customers?  My guess is that United’s top brass don’t sit in middle seats in economy and get bumped, but get privileged entry into the front of the plane.  Most at the top in a bank, including the board, probably have private bankers doing it all for them so they don’t need to push 6, then push 7, now type your account number, etc.  Though, at least on one account the banks aren’t ‘United’. 

Recall the threatened passengers and the assaulted doctor had to vacate their seats for United’s staff.  Could you imagine if you were waiting in a long queue at a remaining bank branch and someone walked in front of you and says I’m an employee and I get to go first? 

The likelihood of Wells Fargo’s senior managers and board members having faked accounts was surely less if they were private banking customers.  It is highly unlikely that the tops of many banks depend on ordinary banking services and they really shouldn’t, but they need to be.  And they need to be ever more aware of their isolation from their products; their social and business contacts are likely to be in similar wealth brackets and receive specialised attention.  They best wake up before their United moment arrives!


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