Fancy titles and final credits

My daughter turned 18 recently so she had to transfer her savings account from a junior to an adult one. To do this she had to send copies of her passport and provisional driving licence to the bank. She didn’t have to send the original documents….copies were fine but the copies had to be certified copies. I didn’t really know what a certified copy was so I had to look it up and found this.

In the week when five big banks were fined $5 billion for manipulating foreign currency markets

I was pretty shocked to discover that a ‘certified copy’ means that your document has been seen, and the copy signed, by “a regulated professional person covered by the money laundering regulations or a government body”. Which pretty much means a Banker.

A bit more digging and it seemed that actually anyone “in a position of responsibility” could do the certifying. So we can add Doctor, Minister of Religion, Teacher, Police Officer, County Councillor, Social Worker, Prison Governor or Member of Parliament to the list.

The logic seems to be that only someone who has a fancy job title or who is in a position of authority can be trusted to say that someone’s driving licence is indeed theirs.

40 years ago we might have bought into the idea that people deserved our respect just because of their role. But now we all know that a grand title, far from making someone morally superior to others, may mean they are more likely to do wrong because their very position gives them the opportunity to do so; and the belief that they will get away with it. Check out this lovely bunch:






I’ve had several conversations with colleagues in recent months about their job title. Some people get hung up on how others will perceive them if they don’t have this or that term in their title.

If Steve has the same title as me how will people know that I am actually his superior? asked Dave.

I asked Dave to imagine that he and Steve had both been to the same meeting. Afterwards all the attendees were asked to think about the contribution that the two of them had made in the meeting. Then they were asked “Which of them do you think made the most valuable contribution?” I hoped that Dave would want to be respected more because of his contribution than his title.

Cormac Russell recently reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in years.

The Great Escape is a compelling WWII tale of allied POWs and their plot to escape from a German prison camp. After Steve McQueen’s character is recaptured and locked in the cooler one last time the end credits role. Each of the main characters briefly appears on screen.

Under each we see not their rank but their name and nick name – a name given to them by their peers to reflect the gift each had contributed to make the escape possible. So we have the Tunnel King, The Forger, The Mole and The Ferret. Placed in the new surroundings of a prison camp new rules apply. Your value comes not from some abstract status bestowed on you by the accident of birth, opportunity or power, but from your innate talent and your willingness to share it for the common good.

It would be nice to think that the signature to confirm that a document is a true copy could come from someone who is known and trusted because of what they have done and not because of a dubious status they’ve acquired with their title.

I wonder what would happen if I asked my lovely neighbour Linda?

She doesn’t have paid employment but she did put in hours and hours to help build the village pre-school and, I recently learned, has been cooking an extra meal each day for a homeless guy sleeping out in an old barn up the road. Perhaps the bank will send it back and say that Linda is not responsible enough.


3 responses to “Fancy titles and final credits

  1. I would classify as “a regulated professional person covered by the money laundering regulations or a government body” – as a Director of a Credit Union I have to be an “approved person” by the regulatory bodies, the FCA & PRA. So strictly speaking, not just bankers.

    That doesn’t alter the main point you’re making (very well) though – just me being pedantic!


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