“The bastard banks… £50 billion, how can you lose £50 billion and still pay bonuses?”
Dave Fishwick summed up the problem thus - £50 billion quid gone missing and banks continuing to pay their bonuses while stopping handing out any more money to the little people, leading to unemployment and decline among many areas of Britain, including Dave’s beloved Burnley.
Dave Fishwick decided to take on the big boys and start his own bank
The solution – a simple one. Dave would open his own bank, return people 5% on their savings, lend money to local people, and give the profits to charity. Fine – so what shall we do AFTER lunch?
Dave wasn’t exactly driving around in a Morris Minor himself – was that a helicopter in the garage? – so we just had to take his word for it that he was committed to helping the little man, and – let’s face it – there aren’t many people with the combination of brains, resources and confidence to take on such a project, let alone someone who makes such great telly.
Dave Fishwick is a gift to the box - excited, indignant, chatty, contagiously enthusiastic and fearless, of the view that “sometimes it’s just easier to apologise after”.
'Bank on Dave' became a bank - by any other name
And the story was the perfect narrative arc. Last week, we saw Dave’s tail on the floor, seeing through his eyes the absurdly cliquey nature of the City and its processes. Sooo…. Eighties.
Then it was back up again as the Bank was unveiled in Burnley – “Bank on Dave!” even if there was no money in the safe, and no licence to practise. Dave ruefully surveyed the empty champagne glasses and wondered if he’d over-reached.
This week found ‘Bank on Dave’ up and running – lending £25,000 a week to all sorts of local businesses, from boat-building to internet start-ups, inspiring economy, expansion and making a real difference to the citizens of Burnley.
But if the out-tray was working smoothly, the same could not be said of the in-tray, while the FSA refused to grant Dave a banker’s licence permitting him to accept deposits.
“What can they say?” he asked. Nothing, apparently, they don’t need to, they just don’t do anything.
Dave offered his customers 5% return on their savings, a lot more than the major banks
Meanwhile, Dave’s emotions were starting to get in the way, getting involved in people’s lives and wanting to help, while his book-keeper David Henshaw looks on in horror – “we can’t help everybody.”
But another twist in the tale meant they found a sneaky way through the back door, match-making loans in and out, so Dave became an agent, with insurance, and a cash-machine and a pair of clocks. In other words… a bank.
At this point, two unlikely guardian angels appeared. The first was fellow Burnley supporter Alistair Campbell, who suggested parking his mobile battle bank – complete with licence plate Bank 1 - next to the Treasury. “This is where it all happened, where it all went wrong,” shouted Dave gleefully – he loves a camera.
The second was Business Secretary Vince Cable who promised to help with what administrative ‘machinery’ he could… begging the question, if he can’t, who…?
Six months in, and it was D-Day, time to balance the books and see if Dave had succeeded where the big boys had spectacularly failed. In that time, 62 people had deposited £110,000, while Dave had made 103 loans totalling £365,000.
The bottom line – a profit of £9,500 or, put another way, Dave was £2.5bn better off than RBS. It was time to celebrate with a chip butty, and presumably, to move the key to the safe from behind the cherry-ade.
My only niggling concern is that I’m not sure casting the ‘big’ banks in a more and more villainous light is the answer, because they do still have so much of our cash in their pockets.
But watching Dave Fishwick being fitted for his bowler hat – “the fit’s atrocious” says Mr Savile Row – was perfect telly, and in this cheeky chappy we have another strong candidate for Number 10, one who pauses to swear about Credit Union before resuming his morning car dance along to Phil Collins.