There is a Coutts cash point in my high street – Eton High Street. It charges other bank’s customers for the privilege of using it. You can do that if you have the banking cachet that Coutts believes it has.
Most of us avoid it and use the free telling machine supplied by Barclays. The majority of people who use it are passing to and from the Windsor clubs from Slough, which sits at the end of the street. It’s easy to make a quick buck out of a late-night reveller. Coutts is happy to make a few bob out of the lumpen provided they stay outside the premises.
Whatever cachet Coutts believes it has. it’s doing its best to destroy it.
It got fined recently for selling ill-researched products backed by the failed insurer AIG. Yesterday it got fined the FSA’s heaviest ever fine for riding roughshod over money laundering rules. The only constant in Coutts’ customer service offering is its rapacity.
I’ve had dealings with Coutts in Jersey and in other offshore hideaways. They are Royal Bank of Scotland’s wealth managers and I worked with their former CIO. I have never had any experience of Coutts’ that justifies the opinion it holds of itself.
Everything about the organisation smacks of privilege and the aspiration to privilege commonly called snobbery.
Coutts’ shortcomings when it comes to checking the sources of the funds on which they make their money come as no surprise to me. The bank believes it is above the law.
The toxic culture that allowed Fred Goodwin to prosper is nowhere more prevalent than in the Queen’s Bank.
Today we here that a sovereign wealth fund is lining up to buy 30% of RBS from us at a 40% discount to the price we paid to bail the bank out in 2008. A part of me says, let them have it - but that would be crazy. The money that we are paying to Hestor and his management team (that includes a personal friend) is intended to instill a new culture within RBS.
My hope is that at Coutts and through all other divisions of RBS a new culture wins through. IT is possible that a new a culture emerges that puts “doing the right thing” as its primary driver. It is going to take more than a few months for that culture to take seed and a fair few years before the bank regains its pre-Goodwin lustre.
If we are to own RBS, we can at least turn it into an organisation that lends money to the right people at the right time, that upholds the highest standards of personal banking and makes sure it does not take money from crooks (that’s what money-laundering is about).
As a tax-payer I am a stakeholder in RBS and so a stakeholder in Coutts. I am ashamed of both. I would rather hold on to this stock and spend money cleaning it up than allow it to continue to pollute our banking system with its arrogance, incompetence and immorality.
- Money ‘laundering’ at the Queen’s bank: Coutts fined £8.75m for taking despots’ millions (dailymail.co.uk)
- Queen’s bankers Coutts given record fine by City watchdog over money laundering checks (mirror.co.uk)
- Queen’s bank Coutts walloped with £8.75m fine for lax money laundering safeguards (dailymail.co.uk)
- Coutts bank fined £8m by FSA (independent.co.uk)
- Coutts fined £8.75m for lax checks on laundering (independent.co.uk)
- Britain Fines Coutts Over Rules Against Money Laundering (dealbook.nytimes.com)
- UK regulator fines queen’s bank Coutts $13.8M (seattlepi.com)
- James Moore: Coutts in the dock… but once again the taxpayer will pay price for City folly (independent.co.uk)
- National News: Queen’s bank fined £8m by watchdog (coventrytelegraph.net)
- UK regulator fines queen’s bank Coutts $13.8M (sfgate.com)