Belfast Telegraph

Profit-making is a feat worthy of celebration

By David Elliott, Business Editor

Profit used to be a dirty word in the banking world. Back in the pre-credit crunch glory days before 2007, there would be barely disguised outrage when it came around to the bank reporting season, where telephone number pre-tax figures were bandied about like wide-rimmed glasses at a media event.

But that sort of style didn't suit what was traditionally a conservative industry, and soon enough the lending world met what is likely to turn out to be a defining moment for the world's money system.

Now, we seem to be slowly climbing back to a kind of normality with some banks, such as Danske, managing to report a profit. Like other banks, it hasn't been an easy journey for Danske to get back to a situation where most of the red has turned to black, and some tough decisions have had to be made, not least the decision to pull out of retail operations across the border.

But still, it's quite a feat to be able to report a profit in these continued days of banking prudence.

Some businesses are complaining that being too prudent may be helping profitability in the banking world but it isn't doing much to help them grow their companies.

That's where the Executive's new Panel (with a capital 'P', according to the press release) comes in.

The Access to Finance Implementation Panel (AFIP) is itself a bit of a mouthful, but is all set to find out who's kidding who.

Businesses have been very vocal in their assertion they couldn't even lever some finance from the banks with a crowbar and skeleton keys.

The banks are scratching their heads in a puzzled manner in response, claiming there aren't enough companies coming forward to ask for credit.

It's up to AFIP to figure out who's telling the truth – a job that is more difficult that it sounds.

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