The Week: Best of the blogs - Have banks had their day?

Be candid now. How many financial services businesses can you think of which would willingly sacrifice a little of this year's margin (and hence a chunk of their bonus) in order to do the right thing by their customers. Nationwide and the Co-op, maybe? I'm not confident most people could name many more.

Most brands have a spark of idealism somewhere within their DNA. In finance, customers suspect that professional pride has become largely indistinguishable from personal self-enrichment.

This wasn't always the case. British financial services brands were the product of mutual societies, the Gentlemanly Ideal and the Presbyterian and Quaker religions. They existed in pursuit of aims alongside immediate self-enrichment.

Today, I think many people would entrust their money to almost anyone before giving it to a bank. Also, many people would prefer to get a return of 6 per cent on their money from which their bank makes a profit of 12 per cent than, say, get 7 per cent on which their bank makes a profit of 50 per cent.

If this is the case, and that a financial brand's reputation for straight dealing is more important than its perceived expertise in finance, it seems to me there is a spectacular opportunity for a few new brands to get in on the act. Who should do it? The Church of England? Charities? The Hare Krishna? Innocent? Your local pub?

In fact, Peter Mandelson's suggestion - the Post Office - isn't a bad idea.

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