Banks may play nasty but it doesn’t mean their staff are.

Many people see one main aim of the work of this site as opposing the banks, and with guides like bank charges, fight rate jacking, and ppi reclaiming, that’s understandable.

Yet actually I’ve no problem with banks; often they do good work, there are some great products, and they provide a crucial service in our society.

My problem is they’re usually much better at their job – making money for their shareholders – than we are as customers. Their marketers devise ways to charge people too much with hidden fees or extreme penalties that push the boundaries of acceptability.

However, we must recognise the difference between the banks as institutions and the individuals who work for them. I received this e-mail (name changed) as a suggested question of the week….

“My name is Jane and I am a current employee of the RBS Group. I actually get quite upset at the amount of media attention within the banking sector at the moment that focuses on the customers.

Obviously the customers are the most important given the current climate and they need help and protection from guys like you. But where is the help for the staff?

We are facing pay cuts and a reduced final salary pension, we are all under immense stress but we have no support from the media at all when we as people are not personally responsible for the failings of the bank.

What I would like to know is if you think the RBS final salary pension is now worth staying in or should we all as staff pull out and look after ourselves?

I think I speak on behalf of all the RBS staff when I say a response will be an invaluable help! Thank you.”

While it’s easy to rail at the ‘masters of the universe’ at investment banks, we need to remember the many bank staff in branches and call centres across the UK on more modest salaries.

Occasionally I do public talks (e.g. MoneySaving Live) and one of the things I often talk about is the dual roles many people play, using this analogy:

As a Manchester City supporter when they play United I want City to score and hate the thought of United doing so. Yet that doesn’t mean I think United are wrong for trying to – that’s their job. And when a player is transferred (like Tevez) and he changes shirt then I’ll cheer loudly.

Equally while in their role for the bank the staff can be the opposition, when they change into their consumer shirts, this site should support them.

Of course, our modern culture of finger-pointing and thinking the worst of people can make that difficult. We’re all often guilty of unfairly castigating individuals based on their role: politicians bad; bankers bad; nurses good; journalists bad; charity workers good; benefits recipients bad, yet it’s important to try and stay blind to it, and MSE will try to.

Sadly the minutiae of the question itself is beyond the scope of this site, or my own knowledge. I don’t cover final salary pension schemes and don’t know anywhere near enough about the situation with RBS to be able to give an appropriate answer. A good solid final salary scheme is usually worth its weight in gold, but sadly these days they’re also about as scarce.

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