Plenty has been made of the reputational challenges facing the financial sector in past decade. In the most recent rankings of Americans' trust in big businesses, for instance, bulge-bracket banks occupied the lowest quartile, with Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo filling in two of the lowest three spots on the 100-company list. (Coming in last was Takata, which literally killed people.)
But there's still a profession that ranks worse than bankers (and even journalists) on America's shit list: members of congress. So now the American Banking Association is angling to get more of its members into that rarefied stratus with a DC training course pitched at the most masochistic of financiers:
The program — which will teach bankers everything from raising funds to kissing babies — is aimed at swelling banker ranks in elected state and federal positions, said Rob Nichols, CEO of the American Bankers Association.[...]
“We do understand and are very sensitive to and cognizant of the reputational challenges associated with our sector — we get all that, absolutely,” Nichols added. “We’re committed to safety and soundness in the banking sector.”
It's not as if bankers are totally lacking from elected office – 18 of the 535 members of Congress come from financial backgrounds – and, of course, Goldman Sachs guys (and gal) are basically the backbone of the Trump administration. But the ABA argues the proportion could be much higher:
“We think the ultimate in political engagement goes beyond building relationships with your lawmaker to actually becoming one,” he said.
That an industry would like to see itself writing more of the laws that govern its operations does not come as a surprise. But getting bankers to make the career switch seems like a tough sell. There's power to be had, sure, but not too much glory and certainly not more money. The kinds of government service bonuses traditionally paid to bankers entering the public sector have come under fire in recent years. Plus, who wants to live in DC?