I want to point out that SME Alliance never says all banks or all bankers are bad. Neither do we consider our remit to be “bank bashing.” From day 1 our remit has always been to lobby for 'access to justice' and to support owners of SMEs who have been abused by banks. Nigel's speech eloquently highlights exactly why we needed to form SME Alliance because it is nothing less than a travesty of justice he has had to make that speech after years of trying to get justice.
Below is a written version of the extract we've taken. It may not be exactly the same as the speech because like all of us at the Symposium, we added or altered things on the day. Either way these are powerful words that need to be heard and we're very grateful to Nigel and his wife Norma for letting us share their shattering experiences in public. I sincerely hope someone in authority in RBS listens to this speech and decides to act with integrity to put things right for the Henderson's. It's never too late to do the right thing.
- Let me just ask you this. Who among you have been targeted by bank managers determined to drive your business towards financial ruin?
- Who among you have experienced endless meetings with professional advisers assuring you that what you dread will not happen as they assure you that your business is viable and that your asset base is more than capable of being used to repay the bank and allow you to continue in business?
- Who among you have experienced that same bank continually promising you and your advisers that the bank does not want to destroy you financially and is willing to consider proposals?
- Who among you have had arrogant bankers demand as a condition of continuing support, proposals from your advisers, and, when these proposals, formulated with great care by accountants and lawyers which take hours of preparation, and many hours of your time away from normal business duties, these carefully prepared proposals, all of which demonstrate viability for the future, are contemptuously dismissed by the same bankers supposedly offering you a lifeline.
- In my book, those same bankers are morally repugnant in refusing every overture to take a conciliatory approach and deal honestly and ethically with the situation and give the business a chance for survival and continuity.
- Who among you have experienced sleepless nights, tossing and turning trying to come up with any solution to avert, what you just know deep down, to be your life’s work about to be taken away from you?
- Who among you have woken up in the mornings with dread in the knowledge that despite all your efforts and pleadings with the bank, these are falling on deaf ears?
- Who among you have endured the realisation that you are going to be evicted from your house and home, and that the business you have dedicated a lifetime to with the intention of passing it to your family, is going to be forcibly taken from you through no fault of your own.
- It is that anguish, that desolation, that despair and utter helplessness you feel knowing that you are headed for destitution, and that there is nothing you can do to avert it, and no one that can help because a bank has decided on a vindictive campaign against you just to satisfy its own criminal agenda to drive you into financial oblivion. What makes it all the more cruel is the fact that none of what has befallen you has been of your own making.
- Who among you have experienced the gut wrenching heartache that comes with the announcement from the court that you are now bankrupt at the petition of an unscrupulous bank? And all this done within 4 years of moving to RBS!!