Hon degrees for the corporate fleas

KU’s obsession with management-speak and big managerial heroes can also take other sick-making forms, including naive decisions about awarding Honorary Doctorates to controversial private sector bankers. Last July, members of staff had to desperately suppress their laughter on stage at the Rose when Spier awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters to Vernon Hill, the founder and chair of Metro Bank (who is also chair of Petplan U.S.). A local branch of Metro opened in Kingston in 2013. But the Bank is not exactly a role model for KU graduates. The latest evidence of this is a national report by Which? on the protection of customer accounts from hackers and the poor cyber security of banks. The consumer group has found that the worst performing bank out of the big 12 in the UK is (big drum roll) Vernon Hill’s Metro Bank.

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1 Response to Hon degrees for the corporate fleas

  1. Muckraker says:

    Some weird events going on in Kingston Business School. And some students are wondering how long it will be before the ‘Kingston Vernon Hill Centre’ is announced with a fanfare. The University’s love affair with Vernon Hill, the controversial boss of Metro Bank, has taken another step towards full-blown marriage when the eccentric American chairman (and his dog ‘Duffy’) gave the first Strategy into Practice lecture to a room of puzzled Business students at Kingston Hill. The lecture theatre (which, contrary to the Uni’s fawning write up was not ‘packed’) took on a bizarre atmosphere as the famous double-act of Hill and Duffy described their business strategy: Hill, who is also CEO of Commerce Bancorp in New Jersey and chair of Pet Plan North America (hardly models of ethical integrity) began his talk by asking who in the audience ‘wants to be rich or a star?’ Everyone excelled at something, he said getting all excited, ‘and superstars are just individuals who understand their unique talents’ (meaning himself, obviously). Hill claimed Metro Bank in Britain has become a ‘legendary brand’ which does not have branches but ‘stores’, and whose customers are not customers but ‘fans’ (eh?). He also babbled endlessly on about his dog, Duffy. ‘My dog is the best known dog in Britain’. It goes everywhere with him, he said, and even helped him pick up his Honorary Doctorate of Letters at the Rose last summer (Doctorate scrolls make tasty pet food). He also told the Kingston Hill students that all the other banks in Britain are ’50 years behind the world’, are ‘burdened by the past’ and their ‘awful’ (his word) I.T., ‘which is only one step above a quill’. He then signed, for anybody who wanted it, a revised edition of his book ‘Fans! Not customers’. All very nice. But the trouble is Metro’s own I.T. and security record has just been heavily criticised by Which? consumer group. And just this week, the Bank has been forced to tap investors for £350million, scale back its growth plans and rejig its board as it desperately seeks to plug a capital hole caused by a very serious accounting error. Both the Bank of England’s Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority have also announced they are investigating Metro Bank over the events that led to this huge accounting blunder. If KU bothered to ask, any good Business Studies student could tell the Uni the blindingly obvious: this is NOT a bank to hold up to students as a managerial role model. But, for some reason, Spier and also the Business Dean etc seem completely in awe of one man and his dog.

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