Last July, Channel 4 introduced the nation to Dave Fishwick; a cheeky Northern chap with a big, although uncompromisingly simple idea. Having made his money running a minibus selling firm in Burnley, Fishwick was sick of seeing his own customers going to the wall for the want of a little investment from the major banks. So, and having already helped out by offering some of those customers personal loans, he came to the conclusion that if he were allowed to set up his own small savings bank, more local businesses, and by extension the local economy, might be saved.
His big idea was just so simple. To strip back banking to its bare essentials – a decent five-percent savings rate for customers and lending on the basis of his own personal assessment as the manager – a return to banking in the old-fashioned face-to-face style which Fishwick himself compared to being along the lines of Captain Mainwaring (although obviously without the bumbling pomposity). And lastly, this being a community enterprise, all profits made would then be immediately pumped back into the economy by means of gifts to local charities.
Unfortunately, however, Dave Fishwick’s dream of founding his own “tiny bank” meant having to take on the might of the entire British banking establishment, and if he hadn’t realised how tough a battle lay ahead, then he very soon would. But being the eternal optimist as well as a person of infectious enthusiasm, Fishwick just pressed ahead anyway. Thus, Burnley Savings and Loans Limited was born, although trading under the slogan “Bank on Dave!”, with quotes and exclamation mark added to get him around the legal hurdle of calling himself a bank – a breach of regulations that he was sternly warned would almost certainly land him in prison.
Seven months on, and Dave Fishwick is back on air again – a third episode of the wonderfully refreshing and genuinely uplifting Channel 4 series “Bank of Dave”, which discovers Fishwick is back in deep water again – now not only trying to persuade the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to allow him to continue trading, but actually facing possible imprisonment. Without spoiling the story for those who haven’t seen the episode yet, I will only add that the outcome of his latest trials and tribulations are more spectacular than ever.
Dave Fishwick is not a man to mince his words, and like every wise fool he has a penetrating bluffness that cuts through all the crap. I’ll leave you with his no-nonsense response as he talks over the situation with his small team of employees after receiving the shutdown notice from the FSA:
“Barclays Bank, they fixed the Libor rate in this country, fixed the Libor rate! They got a fine! We’re helping people and giving the profit to charity and they’ve shut us down! How come they haven’t sent cease and desist and shutdown to Barclays? How’s that work…? They are trying to bully us. We cannot accept the bullying, right. There’s me that takes the risk – if anybody goes to prison, it’s not you guys, don’t worry about that, it’s me. One way or another, I’ll find a way to beat this…”
I thoroughly recommend that if you have a free hour, and if you’ve not already seen Thursday’s episode [February 28th], you click here to catch up on Dave Fishwick’s latest escapades.
Alternatively, and if you’d like to watch all of the episodes from the very beginning (3 hours in total), then click here.