The Libor scandal continues to shock, prompting bewilderment as well as disgust. The mood has turned against the City, with the FT suggesting that it ‘may be necessary to retire this generation of flawed leaders.’ In the piece below, Geraint Anderson, a former stockbroker and whistleblower, explains why his latest book, Payback Time, a story of people taking revenge on a bank they blame for their friend’s suicide, was inspired by the self-loathing caused by working for Mammon and the divisiveness which the crash has caused.
I did not write Payback Time for the money. This is not an attack on my publisher’s generosity, but a reflection of the fact that they cannot match the preposterously large bonuses my City bosses used to hand me every year.
There is an element of Catholic guilt lurking in my psyche. As a City banker, I spent twelve years knowing that I was playing for the wrong team; but I was paid bigger and bigger bonuses and, like some doomed gangster in a film noir, I kept on convincing myself to do ‘one last job’ to earn one last bonus. This conflicted feeling led me to write an anonymous newspaper column exposing the banking industry towards the end of my career, and almost certainly still adds venom to my ink.
It’s also a theme that will chime with the public mood. Many people feel that bankers have got away with blue murder; the idea of a group of friends taking a bank down keys into that. As with my first book, Cityboy, I want to educate ‘civilians’ (as we Masters of the Universe arrogantly called the general public) about City practices. The Square Mile is a closed world which, like the mafia, has its own code of silence. Hence, I hope that my brief description of the mechanics of a ‘bear raid’ will give the reader an insight into how banks work and how vulnerable they can be to an engineered loss of confidence. A greater comprehension of these issues will help people understand how the financial crisis came about … and how unbelievably greedy and selfish certain City speculators can be.
I don’t want to give a heavy-handed moral message. I tried that foolishness with Cityboy — a memoir that recounted the sorry tale of a silly lad who loses his soul in pursuit of wealth. I was thrilled to receive thousands of emails in response to this stark warning about the evils of greed and materialism; unfortunately nearly every single one of them came from young men begging me to help them find a job at an investment bank. Either I was ‘of the devil’s party without knowing it’ or we should have major concerns about the youth of today!
Payback Time is published by Headline. Follow Geraint on Twitter @cityboylondon.Tags: City of London, Fiction, Scandal