Yesterday we heard that Barclays Bank has been fined £290million by the FSA for rigging interest rates. Not just a massive fine but another major blow to the Barclays brand.
Those of you who have heard the Red Letter Days story will know we were forced into administration by Barclays Bank back in 2005- despite the fact we had £3.3million cash at bank. The bank had bonded the company’s credit card takings on the basis there were contingent liabilities on vouchers sold via credit card. 12 months later (when all the vouchers had either been redeemed or had expired) the cost of fulfilling them was just over £1million. £2.5 million of the £3.3million was given to the company that acquired Red Letter Days out of administration (which it bought for the princely sum of £250k), £300k went to liquidators Kroll as their fees and £500k was kept by Barclays as their ‘bonus’ for administering the situation.
It was clear that what Barclays had done was both unlawful and unethical. At the time I took legal advice on what could be done.
A very wise lawyer said to me ‘Rachel, do you want to spend all your remaining money plus a few years fighting Barclays or do you want to get on and live your life?’
I’ve since told this story at probably over 300 business events and it never fails to draw similar horror stories from other people who have suffered at the hands of ‘Barcslays’ (as I now call them). As well as feedback from many ex-‘Barcslays’ employees who felt compelled to leave because of the bank’s ruthless, dog-eat-dog culture.
In business many short term wins are to be had through greed combined with abuse of power.
In the long term, however, (as we have seen with RBS, BP and News International to name but a few) these businesses eventually collapse and crumble under the sheer weight of their negative karma.
The message is, if you are unethical in business you may think you have got away with it, but the negative energy you create will always come back to bite you in the end.
Worth thinking about next time you are tempted to stitch someone up.