Lying, business mentoring and banks

One major aspect of business mentoring is often to encourage people to understand that what they have been doing until now just does not work. After all, that is why they have sort help in the first place.

This is became relevant when I was looking for a new piece of professional literature last month and I hit upon the latest book by Dan Ariely; The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty. Ariely presents a very simple proposal. Most of us try to be good and decent citizens. There again, given the moment, we will cheat – exams, sports, office stationary and more.

This is not major theft. But we cheat or steal and we do so in a way that we can justify to ourselves and then move on quickly. In fact, so long as money is not involved, we often find it easier to cheat.

In political terms, George Orwell would have called this “the defence of the indefensible”, a quote I have cited before. We know that something is wrong, but ignore why we are talking rubbish. We try to cover it up and get away with it.

Ariely is an Israeli, who holds senior lecturing positions in America. He cites irregularities amongst the ethics of Ivy League students in America. His book is also full of anecdotes of Israeli taxi drivers who somehow manage to charge more than the meter or local stall holders in markets who never quite give you what you want.

It was with some ironic timing how this week, the Inspector-General of banks in Israel came out with a damming report on the way clerks are given bonuses for pushing loans to clients. In other words, the staff have a vested interest in selling a product, even if the client may not want one, need one or be able to repay it! I was stunned at this immorality.

Now look at these stats also released this week in Israel. Over 20% of adults live permanently in overdraft. 32% of bank account owners received a request in the past year from banks if they want extra credit. Up to 40% of the population may have taken an extra bank loan in the past year.

And how do the banks justify this? I do not really know. What I do know is that aside from benefiting from cruel rates of interest, the banks tend to secure horrendous charges solely for the paperwork of arranging such loans.

On page 34, Ariely writes:

I was surprised by the increase in cheating that came with being one small step removed from the money. As it turns out, people are more apt to be dishonest in the presence of nonmonetary objects.

The bank clerk deals with forms and electronic signatures. He does not count out shekel or dollar notes. The only money he sees is the bonus in his own account a few days later. In Ariely terms, this makes for an excellent arena for some discrete dishonesty.

And how can I prove this is wrong? Simple. Ask the question why clerks do not disclose their conflict of interest? Why do the banks not publish their commissions on such matters? Because if they were full honest and open about what was going on, then there may be less demand for such services, which would impact on profits. Ouch!

I guess banks do not need business mentors. Otherwise, they might change their ways.

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One Comment on “Lying, business mentoring and banks”

  1. Benjamin Brave Says:

    Wake up to the lies


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