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What would your father say?

So at last the world has a group who are to be more despised than politicians. Sleaze was the word that was used to describe the sort of behaviour that involved politicians using their position to enjoy an upmarket lifestyle or to line their own pockets with what we now see as been relatively small amounts of cash.

Now we have a new class of scoundrel – the bankers. We are talking about individuals who have arranged for their own benefit financial deals which involve quite staggering sums of money.

Hard work and success should be recognised but the style in which this has been done in the past is now seen as being unacceptable.

This is not a minority view – press and media comment has been unanimous. It is quite clear that the public expect their leaders, either political or financial, to meet certain standards.

The trouble with standards lies in defining what is and what is not acceptable. An elder and respected member of the City community once defined the stand- ard by which he lived as being whether his own father would approve of his actions.

Others might consider whether they would be happy to see their actions reported graphically by the tabloid press.

At the end of the day, we all have to set our own standards while at the same time recognising that we are part of a community which will have a corporate view, a fact that both bankers and polit-icians have recently found to be true.

Governments throughout the world are implementing their plans to see their way through the current financial woes. In the UK, great hope seems to be invested in unfreezing the housing market, with banks being recapitalised and being handed billions of pounds to rouse the housing market from its slumbers.

For many borrowers, better access to funds would enable them to reorganise their finances but that alone will not activate the economy. The money needs to be used to generate demand across the economy.

New houses will provide work for construction workers, new home- owners will drive demand for DIY products, furniture and white goods.

Critically, mortgage lenders need to ensure that there is no return to the poor quality of lending that contributed to the present difficulties. Interest levels will not come close to the zero levels touted by central bankers as lenders need to achieve a reasonable commercial return.

Mortgage advisers will continue to find business difficult for some time. Borrowers might have unreasonable expectations which need to be managed, advisers may sometimes have to voice words that used to be well known to the old bank manager: “I’m sorry but I can’t help you.”

We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask the question: “What would your father think of you?”

Richard Fox is chief executive of the Society of Mortgage Professionals

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