The Money Shot - July 23rd, 2012

The Mayans - predictors of 'profound change', allegedly
"Profound change looks like it might be round the corner for financial services."
  • | by Kristian Dando

THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT?

If you believe the pedlars of doom - or that ropey film a few years back with John Cusack in it - 2012 is the year that the world will end. They’ve managed to deduce that by looking at the calendar of the ancient civilisation of the Mayans, which runs out this year. The Mayans, by the way, are not to be confused with the pop star Maya, of ‘If You Buy This Record Your Life Will Be Better’ fame.

Another rather more optimistic interpretation of the Mayan calendar – and one the ancient people are said to have bought into themselves - is that the world is in for a spell of profound change, possibly for the better. And, looking at what’s going on with banks at the moment, ‘profound change’ looks like it might be round the corner for financial services.

Customers are understandably miffed with bail-outs, money-laundering, rate-fixing, gratuitous bonuses, feeble interest rates, reluctance to lend, mis-selling of useless products, rate fixing and computer clangers. So when the Co-operative Bank agreed to buy 620 Lloyds TSB and Cheltenham & Gloucester branches in order to give itself an increased foothold in town centres, there was talk afoot of the biggest shake-up to high street-banking for a generation.

There might be more than a whiff of hyperbole about this, but it may now be possible for an ‘ethical bank’ (and some may argue this is an oxymoronic term) which doesn’t do nasty things like invest in the arms trade to take on the giants of the industry. That said, the Co-op isn’t adverse to a bit of naughtiness itself – it set aside £90m of compo money to deal with cases of mis-selling last year, and recently had plans to make an extra £24m worth of revenue from a cunning change to its customer service telephone lines although this is now said to be ‘under review’.

Add to this mix the best efforts of Dave Fishkin, the incorrigible and charismatic Burnley-based businessman who’s the star of Channel 4 docu-series Bank of Dave. He’s endeavouring to kick-start a change in the banking sector by getting the Financial Services Authority to give him a banking licence, which he hopes will allow other similarly minded philanthropic types to do what he’s done.

He’s got a long way to go yet. But as last night’s episode of Bank of Dave showed (if you didn’t watch it, do so as it’s essential viewing), he won’t fail for want of trying.

The winds of change certainly feel as if they’re a-blowing.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“It wasn’t just the price of his car insurance that was rising.”

Just some of the trouser-bursting antics of the #50shadesofinsurance thread on Twitter, which has been getting us particularly hot under the collar.

SHAMELESS OLYMPIC CASH-IN OF THE WEEK

There’ve been all sorts of things which have upset the Money Shot in the run-up to the Olympics. The G4S business. That Pet Shop Boys song. The tax breaks enjoyed by companies like Adidas, Panasonic and Dow. The banning of oversized novelty hats in Olympic ‘stadia’. But the news that the Spice Girls will reform for the Games closing ceremony manages to top all of them.

Let’s just take a moment to consider heinous crimes against popular music like ‘Mama’. Are you happy now LOCOG? Well, are you?

ON THE ‘LASH

GPs have enough to worry about – creeping privatisation, runny-nosed darlings and their frightful parents, hypochondriac repeat customers, how on earth they are going to squeeze in that next round of golf - without being inundated with potentially spurious cases of ‘whiplash’.

So, a surgery in Sheffield has taken the drastic step of charging potential whiplash claimants the sum of £21 in order to weed out genuine cases of pain in the neck from the pesky pains in the neck. It turns out that doctors’ surgeries are perfectly in their rights to do this - the Road Traffic Act of 1988 states that doctors can charge for providing treatment after traffic accidents.

Dr Stephen Davies, a GP in Sheffield and spokesman for the Royal College of GPs, said: ”We’re all seeing, on a regular basis, people coming in for an assessment for whiplash and from a clinical point of view they do not appear to have sustained a serious injury. The reason they have come in is to just have it recorded on their medical notes.

“These days you tend to see people who very often have no physical signs,” he added. “They walk in quite happily. Ten or 20 years ago, whiplash patients would have been struggling in with considerable bruising.”

IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK

There have been allegations of money laundering at HSBC. Apparently, their head of compliance (who has now stepped down) was aware that money from nefarious sources, including drug cartels, was passing through the bank. We can barely get the Money Shot signed off by ours’ without them having a mild panic attack first...

A spam ‘botnet’ said to be responsible for 18% of the world’s scam emails about ‘performance-enhancing’ pills has been terminated.

Financial newcomer M&S Bank will charge customers up to £20 a month to make use of its ‘premium’ service, which sounds like quite a lot. There’ll be benefits, though – customers will get store vouchers and travel insurance, plus the chance to do their banking whenever their local branch is open. If, like the Money Shot, you’ve had to shelve your constitutional Saturday lolling around in bed session to hotfoot it to the bank, this may be a boon.

One in four young drivers have a crash in the first six months of passing their test, according to AA insurance.

Scottish Power has denied that it has started its doorstep selling operations again.

The dreadful weather we’ve had will result in insurance claims to the tune of £500m, according to the ABI.

ON GOCOMPARE.COM NEWS THIS WEEK

‘Speedy’ Dave Jenkins got a ticket for driving too fast. Instead of taking the penalty points and an increased car insurance premium, he took up the option of a speed awareness course. Here’s how it went down.

We published this 'great infographic' about how youngsters these days can't bear to part themselves from work, technology and social media whilst on their hols.

Rachel England - our very own ‘Professor Green’ – got the lowdown on environmentally friendly financial products.

Kristian Dando squeezed into a garishly coloured spandex leotard, got greased up, applied the creosote and wrestled with the five factors pushing up the price of car insurance.

Once he’d finished with that, he asked if the Co-op could take on the banking big boys.

AND FINALLY
On a Sunday morning, there’s nothing more that the Money Shot likes to do than parade around our modest semi in the buff. Enjoying a coffee, taking in the papers and catching up on events in Ambridge on Radio 4’s the Archers omnibus au naturel is an experience to be savoured.

The Money Shot would, however, stop short of stepping into the garden without suitable clothing, and certainly wouldn’t entertain the idea of operating any heavy tools. Not least a chainsaw.

That’s what Lindsay Medd Stevens, a 5ft 11 ins, 210-pound gentleman from Tennessee in America did, and he ended up feeling the firm grip of the long arm of the law for his free-spirited escapade. A neighbour caught Stevens in his garden, struggling manfully to cut down a tree – you can make your own jokes about ‘wood’ here, smut fans – and duly informed the fuzz.

Apparently, Stevens has previous for this sort of thing – he’s been spotted mowing his garden with a ride-on mower, and neighbours have expressed concern that local schoolchildren could spot him…

He’s now due in court, where it’s hoped he won’t be wearing his birthday suit.

Join us for another thrilling instalment of THE MONEY SHOT. In the meantime, why not email the editor with your letters. If we print them, you could receive a prized Gocompare.com stationery set and an autographed picture of Gio Compario, star of our ad campaign. Three are up for grabs every week. (Promoter: Gocompare.com Ltd)
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