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How Barclays, Goldman, RBS and others can sing their way to contrition


Citigroup embarked on a cunning PR exercise by taking part in BBC reality TV show The Choir, broadcast in the UK on BBC 2 last night, where they attempted to show that bankers are, after all, humans who can hold a note and bust a move.

This didn’t stop host Gareth Malone for taking a pop or two: “I feel quite brave saying to them ‘everyone hates you, everyone’s angry and you need to acknowledge this in your song choice,’” he confided to the camera at one point. Cue investment bankers suggesting ‘Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word’ by Elton John and trying out ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson as their song of choice. In the end, they settled on U2’s One, and featured a series of Citigroup employees singing ‘Did I disappoint you?’ and ‘Is it getting better?’, while cutting to shots of an angry mob of protesters outside the building.

So, what if other banks wanted to show a little contrition for the financial crisis and ongoing series of scandals? Here’s our suggested list (all tongue in cheek, of course):

1. Barclays: Fix You, Coldplay

Why?:  Because they’ve been most associated with the Libor rate-rigging scandal and has been embarking on a strategic review to change the culture ever since, obviously.

Sample lyrics: And high up above or down below
When you’re too in love to let it go
But if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth

2. Bank of America: Let’s Stick Together, Bryan Ferry

Why?: Bank of America may have acquired Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis, but it’s still feeling the pain of the integration. Not only did it sign off a $2.4bn settlement in April over allegations that it deceived investors over the purchase, it also revealed in its latest results that  the Department of Justice has filed more charges over Merrill Lynch’s CDO book.

Sample lyrics: And now the marriage vow is very sacred
The man has put us together now
You ought to make it stick together
Come on, come on, let’s stick together

3. Credit Suisse: Survivor, Destiny’s Child

Why?: Credit Suisse was believed to have come out in good shape during the financial crisis, went on a hiring spree for its investment bank in 2009 only to see a 60% fall in net income in 2011. It’s been shrinking its investment bank since.

Sample lyrics: After all of the darkness and sadness
Soon comes my happiness
If I surround myself with positive things
I’ll gain prosperity

4. Deutsche Bank: We Can Work it Out, The Beatles

Why?: It fired four traders after an internal probe into Libor. They claimed for wrongful dismissal and won.

Sample lyrics: I have always thought that it’s a crime,
So I will ask you once again.

5. Goldman Sachs: Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Michael Jackson

Why?: Well, you know, vampire squid and all that.

Sample lyrics: Heartbreak Enemy Despise
Eternal (Ah Eternal)

6. Lehman Brothers: I Threw it All Away, Bob Dylan.

Why?: It’s no more, of course.

Sample lyrics: Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand
And rivers that ran through ev’ry day
I must have been mad
I never knew what I had
Until I threw it all away

7. JPMorgan: I Fought the Law, Bobby Fuller Four

Why?: $9.2bn in legal costs and counting, geddit?

Sample lyrics:  I needed money ‘cause I had none
I fought the law, and the law won.

8. Morgan Stanley: Clean, Depeche Mode

Why?: It’s the only big bank yet to receive a federal fine related to financial crisis.

Sample Lyrics: I don’t advise
And I don’t criticise
I just know what I like
With my own eyes

9. Royal Bank of Scotland: Rolling Stones, Back to Zero

Why?: From provincial Scottish bank to global power house and, perhaps, back again.

Sample lyrics: Back to zero
So you wanna blow us all to pieces
Go meet your maker, head hung down
And give him all your explanations

10. SocGen: The Trader, The Beach Boys

Why?: Remember Jerome Kerviel?

Sample lyrics: Trader he got the crown okay
Cleared humanity from his way

10. UBS: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, Neil Sedaka

Why?: 10,000 redundancies and an exit from a series of investment banking business lines, but no intention to separate investment banking entirely from its main focus of wealth management.

Sample lyrics: They say that breaking up is hard to do
Now I know, I know it’s true
Don’t say that this is the end
Instead of breaking up I wish that we were making up again.

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