If we give you actual financial advice which results in you doing something which we arrange for you, then we’re giving you advice. If we, as we often do when someone gets in touch whom we can’t really help, ‘point you in the right direction’ and let you get on with it, is that ‘advice’ or ‘guidance’? What’s the difference? Well, that’s what this debate is all about, as if it’s ‘advice’, we carry the can, and shouldn’t have told you anything without fully appraising your financial and probably personal situation and inside leg measurement. Which takes time and will cost you money. If we give you a bit of guidance, you sort it out for yourself, and it goes wrong, whose fault is that? Quite possibly ours; and there’s the rub.
‘Just when bankers’ reputations have started to recover’ might be something of an exaggeration. The image of fat cats and their traders earning big bonuses while crashing the economy still endures and has been given further life and legs by the NatWest chairman’s ultimate out-of-touch-with-the-real-world comments.