Social loans? What about social life?
I was talking to a few loans bankers this week and was surprised when they revealed privately that they had very little interest in social loans. That gave me an idea.
Green and sustainability is a hot topic at every bank in the market but it has also become the sort of market that people need to pretend they care about, even when they don’t. No-one wants to look heartless, but that means even justified scepticism is often downplayed in favour of cheery optimism.
Not every banker is so bullish when talking privately, however. I had drinks with a few loans bankers this week. They all bragged about their firms’ achievements in the green and sustainable markets, making bold claims about being the market leader and questioning each other’s credentials.
When I asked them about social loans, though, I was greeted with a wall of silence.
Three of these bankers said they had been too busy with more immediate deals and have not had the chance to look into the details of possible social loans. Another admitted he had seen ‘social loans’ in a few email subject lines, but he had never bothered to open the emails.
It occurred to me, sitting in the bar, that the loan market was missing a trick. After all, is there any market in the banking industry more social than syndicated loans?
Yes, social activity might be defined rather more narrowly on their nights out than activists would like — it essentially only benefits bar owners and kebab makers — but surely there is room to expand the use of proceeds of social loans to ensure that the bankers take a real interest in the subject?
At the very least, it might limit the damage to their expense accounts.