While it’s tempting to begin this edition of the column along the lines of last time’s theme—‘it’s a funny old world’—given that the Iranians are now our best friends and it looks like Gadaffi wasn’t that bad after all (a little like Charles Kennedy keeping the lid on the Star Wars cafe scene selection of Liberal Democrats for all those years before they outed themselves, sometimes literally, into the coalition). But no, loftier matter await—notably the issue of ‘legacy’. Not the legacy versus sustainability argument, which was the running joke in the BBC sitcom Twenty Twelve, but more the question of what lasting memento will we leave behind when we go to the great central clearinghouse in the sky?
What prompted me into thinking this was no deep, life-changing event, but rather being called ‘Sir’ by someone in his late 20s at an airport bureau de change (off to Asia to catch up with developments there, as you ask). I swear that yesterday I was in my 20s myself, however, in reality I’m much, much closer to 50 and this young man called me ‘Sir’ out of respect to my age, not in some faux deferential or mocking way. So what will my legacy be? Children? Tick. Having run my own business? Tick. Some charity work? Tick. But what’s missing—writing the great novel that’s apparently inside all of us? Possibly. Build a house from scratch? Highly improbable given my ability to bodge even changing a lightbulb..
If you’re in the asset servicing industry still, what could be done? Well, the options are multiple and they all involve standing out from the crowd in some way, be that as an individual contributor, on behalf of your firm or even the industry itself. Might it be paving the way for clients to pay via bitcoin, or perhaps setting up the first proprietary block chain (if that is not an oxymoron) and taking a quantum leap ahead in terms of client/supplier relationships? Might it be working to improve the reputation of our area of banking in the eyes of the general public, or helping to put aside partisan rivalries and help move our industry en masse towards an efficiency and professionalism level above and beyond where it is now? It could also be to help increase the level of staff training and job satisfaction and becoming an example of efficiency and professionalism.
The choice, I’d suggest, is between being a ‘salaryman’, corporate automaton or an individual—remember that if we all strive to achieve our targets then the general level of talent and quality of the industry will increase at the same time, and all will be for the greater good. The length of this column doesn’t allow me to propose any further theories for potential legacies, but hopefully I’ve said enough to sow the first seed.
As ever, do let me know your thoughts. Drop me a line at paul@localhost