Tuesday, February 28, 2012

HSBC and support for the arts - NOT

About 3 weeks ago, Tim Ward, Chairman of the Vortex, and I went to see our bank, HSBC. The guy there was most insistent that, despite all the Vortex does, we reduce our overdraft of £12,500 to zero "to protect the bank". Our explanation of all the Vortex does as a music club supporting jazz etc., and all that we do in Gillett Square fell on deaf ears. "You're too small to be of interest to us.". He even supported our suggestion to look for an alternative bank.  For information, we pay commercial rates for the overdraft.
Now, let's look at 2 pieces of news from yesterday and today.
Record profits at HSBC. And I worked out that CEO Stuart Gulliver earns the equivalent of our overdraft in half a day of work approximately. What therefore would it have done for their image to have just left us at the status quo? Well, who knows? And the amount of time that they have wasted on us.
Also. There was an article in the FT today explaining how business donations are declining. I suppose our experience would not be "donations" but just awareness or support.
The contrast, also mentioned in the report, is in private giving. That certainly is true at the Vortex. Our volunteer support is up and up.
(The upshot, by the way, of our dealings with HSBC is that we have ended up with a lower overdraft, through bits of judicious tinkering around here. So we survive, but no thanks to our bank, even though we have been with them for 7 years. Tim feels chastened as his family has banked with them for 2 generations.)

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