There was a great interview on BBC Radio 4 this morning with Anthony Jenkins, CEO of Barclays Bank.
He talked about “doing right by our customers and our shareholders”. For all the dodgy stuff that has seemingly gone on in the past in banking, Anthony Jenkins was passionate about getting it right so that the customers could get what they wanted, without being mis-sold products that they don’t need. He also recognised that the shareholders needed to be paid too, but that Barclays could look after their customers whilst making a profit to keep the shareholders happy.
Evan Davis (the interviewer) asked him whether he thought Barclays would lose market share to his competitors, who might continue to use less ethical ways to sell to their customers.
Anthony Jenkins was very clear on this: No, he said (and I’m slightly paraphrasing here), if you do right by your customers, then market share should grow.
Ignoring all the bad feeling around the banking world, it was a complete pleasure to listen to a CEO of a big corporate company talk about this. It’s something I have believed in for a long time, and it’s something we strongly adhere to at Merrie Marketing Towers: treat your clients and customers in an honest, fair and ethical way; don’t sell them stuff they don’t need; and do business properly, professionally and with integrity.
However, we are all in business to make money (otherwise, why the long hours?!). That is entirely right. Barclays are a commercial organisation and need to make money. They have overheads and staff’s livelihoods to cover, as well as their future to invest in. As do you and I.
We can all still make money and turn a profit, whilst doing business with integrity.
A couple of times over the past two or three months, we have been at the sharp end of someone else’s lack of integrity, as well as not wanting the professional approach. It’s not nice and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. But….we get to sleep easy at night knowing that we stick to our high values no matter what. Fortunately, the vast majority of people we come into contact with share these high values, and respect honest and open communication, fairness, honesty and integrity as much as we do. The ones who don’t, well, we don’t want to work with them.
The banking world currently has a bad name because of the way it dealt with people in the past. What goes around, comes around, and that came back to bite them in the rear. I think there’s a warning in there for any business.
I personally would like to make vote for all business to be conducted in a fair, honest and open communicative way, and with proper professionalism and integrity.
In these fast and “immediate” days of email, twitter and phones that do everything but make a phone call, assumptions and false expectations are made. Business is actually conducted between people, not technology. It’s not just about contracts, it’s about creating something new. If you hire expert x to achieve a certain goal in your business, then you both have a responsibility to work together to create that goal over a certain time period. If you plant a seed, it has to put down its roots first. Then it reaches for the sky. You don’t not water it and it give it sunshine at the beginning, nor do you yank it out of the ground or cut it down when it’s showing its first shoots and leaves. If you do that – nada. Nothing. No plant.
I think professional relationships are like that: you both need to work together to help the seed put down roots first. Once that’s done, you can both reach for the sky. The second bit always happens faster than the first bit. It you’re a gardener, you’ll know that, however much you want to, you can’t skip the first bit, or your plant doesn’t grow. You have to apply a simple honesty to your seed to make it grow. You couldn’t do anything else BUT treat it with respect, fairness, honesty and nurture it. And you can even talk to it!
You can’t hurry nature, but ultimately, it will reward you a hundred fold. Stunning flowers to bring you beauty and joy? Vegetables to feed your family? Nectar and seeds to feed birds and wildlife? And more seeds to grow more plants in the future.
Anthony Jenkins of Barclays is entirely right.
Treat your business relationships – your clients, your suppliers, your associates – like you would a seed. Honestly, fairly, simply, with integrity.
The rewards will come.
Dedicated to your success,