BusinessCompany NewsOn the money with Gavin Hinks

On the money with Gavin Hinks

Harriet Harman’s display on the Andrew Marr show, when talking about ex-Royal Bank of Scotland chief Sir Fred Goodwin, was a breathtaking display of incoherent thinking and shameless politicking

gavin hinks, Accountancy Age editor

Sir Fred ‘the shred,’ some of you will recall, is an accountant who started
his working life at Touche Ross.

There he became a partner; liquidating BCCI before making the move into
running banks himself.

Now, of course, he and his pension (Harman denied it was a pension) have
become the bogeymen of the banking crisis.

Was he a great banker? History will no doubt cast an unfavourable light on
the way he led RBS through the acquisition of NatWest, ABN Amro and its massive
over involvement in the nastiest bit of the credit crisis ­ collateralised debt
obligations.

But the argument over Goodwin goes beyond his performance at RBS. The debacle
has begun to obscure discussion of the solution to our problems. It seeks
someone to take symbolic blame for past failings of the system and, attempts to
make Goodwin carry the can for the whole crisis. It says, ‘if only we can stop
Goodwin taking his pension then everything will be alright.’

And that project was succeeding until Harman popped up and got her knickers
in a twist trying to convince us that the ‘court of public opinion’ would halt
his pension even though she’d already conceded that, legally, it looks
watertight.

Harman’s effort was as clumsy as a flailing B-list celeb on Dancing on
Ice
and as cynical as a Ronaldo dive in the penalty area. Trouble is, I
suspect the City is quite happy that Goodwin is taking the heat and becoming the
most vilified banker and accountant of all time.

Surely, all the energy spent hounding him would be better spent elsewhere –
like solving the crisis.

Gavin Hinks is the editor of Accountancy Age

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