All People Great and Small
6th October 2020
Bankers and banking! After the 2008 financial crisis and its repercussions, these words became associated with greed, incompetence and fraud but, by this time, the whole nature of banking had changed from the staid and generally well-respected image which the banks and their employees had presented for generations. It was this earlier period that was the subject of this talk by club member Malcolm Cameron who had spent a career in banking which had ended with his retirement well before the events of 2008 took place.
In an entertaining talk full of anecdotes about the many people whom he had known as work colleagues or clients, the speaker described how, almost by accident, he had entered a profession that was to provide him with a career for the whole of his working life, culminating in a senior position in the NatWest bank.
On leaving school, Malcolm’s intention had been to pursue a career based on his interest in chemistry. Accordingly, he applied for a job with Boots in Nottingham but, even while waiting for a response to this application, his father had been speaking to the local bank manager who suggested that Malcolm should consider banking, initially for a probationary six-month trial period. The outcome was satisfactory for all concerned and so, in August 1959, Malcolm’s career was launched, albeit at a very junior level.
The speaker then described how his career progressed, from being a clerk, through increasingly responsible promotions, each of which seemed to involve a move from location to location, starting in his home town of Belper, successively to Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham, Hull and, finally, Birmingham. During this time, the Westminster Bank, his original employer, merged with the National Provincial to create the ‘National Westminster’ (NatWest) in 1970. This was simply the latest of many mergers and take-overs in the history of the Westminster. Indeed, J. Taylor & Sons, a company local to Bakewell itself, and which had been founded in 1846, was merged into the Westminster in 1879.
Malcolm’s career saw many changes in banking, including the introduction of credit cards and computerisation, developments that were almost revolutionary at the time, but which are now taken for granted, of course. However, as he was happy to report, he played no part in the hazardous investment side of banking which led to such disastrous results a dozen years ago.