Accountancy for bankers 101

That last mini-rant about the Jobcentre seems to have opened up a seam of unarticulated resentment, but that’s what blogs are for, eh?

So here’s a story about the time I took a pile of coins into NatWest in the hope they could change them for something of equal value but more portable. Like, a banknote. First question: are you a customer? Well, no, but I don’t want to do anything involving bank accounts, just change some cash for some more cash …

We can’t do that unless you’re a customer.

We could have passed my pile of coin of the realm, legal tender in any part of the UK, back and forth about five times in the time it took to explain. I expect the explanation alone cost them a lot more than the effort of changing coins for a note. But here’s the gist of it. These guardians of the nation’s currency are convinced it costs them money to open a drawer, take some money out and put some back in.

They are of course incorrect, so for the benefit of any bankers reading, let me make it simple.

Janet has five one pound coins. See Janet’s coins:

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1
= £5 total

John has a five pound note. See John’s note:

£5
= £5 total

Janet gives her coins to John. John gives his note to Janet. Now see John’s coins:

£1 £1 £1 £1 £1
= £5 total

Now see Janet’s note:

£5
= £5 total

Can you see that neither of them has lost or gained anything by this transaction?

Janet can.

John can.

Can you?

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