Finding myself in need of some respite from my role as Battler of the Banks, I embarked on some recreational research. In doing so I discovered Ian Fraser’s article of March 2009 about God’s Banker. Without reading any further I knew immediately this piece was about Stephen Green, Chief Executive of HSBC.
Having asked the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in January 2009 to help me deal with our creditors I was still sinking under the weight of the abusive correspondence from HSBC. Despite a full CAB explanation of our circumstances, the correspondence from the debt collection agency appointed by HSBC was becoming increasingly threatening in its nature. In desperation I went into the local HSBC branch in June 2009 to explain our position only to be met with the staff’s expressions of hopelessness along with apathetic comments which got me nowhere. I arrived at my friend Chris's house in tears believing there was to be no end to HSBC’s demands and my plight was indeed as hopeless as intimated by the branch employees.
After issuing a few comforting words, my trusty friend and comrade at arms fired up her computer with the statement, “I think it’s time to write to the Chief Executive.” Moments later we were reading that HSBC’s man at the top was an ordained Anglican Priest who had spent a year working at a hostel for alcoholics and I allowed myself a flicker of hope. Believing I might be approaching a man of integrity, I wrote to Stephen Green asking for his compassion in the light of our irreversibly dire financial circumstances and asked if he could arrange for my husband’s debts with HSBC to be written off rather than relentlessly and heartlessly pursued. Mr Green did not disappoint.
In reply to my letter, the Head of HSBC Customer Relations advised me they would not only be writing off the £45,000 my husband owed them directly but they were also able to write off a further £15,000 of credit card debt which was under their management. They concluded with the words they “hoped their decision would bring me comfort and it would go some way towards allowing you and your family to make a fresh start without the worries of the past.” This time I was crying with relief.
Ian Fraser says, “At last an honest banker,” and quotes Stephen Green as saying,
“It is as if, too often, people had given up asking whether something was the right thing to do, and focused only on whether it was legal and complied with the rules. The industry needs to recover a sense of what is right and suitable as the key impulse for doing business” and while Ian founds his remarks “hugely refreshing” I found his actions hugely humane.
However, I find it hugely inhumane HBOS and Lloyds Banking Group still chose to operate in heartless contrast to the kind and logical words, and actions, of God's banker while two years on from the release of my husband’s obligations to HSBC I am still struggling to make any kind of “fresh start” because of their persecution of us.