Financial Marketing and the Moral Compass

The issue of whether marketing professionals should work with clients in controversial areas of business is certainly not new.  Alcohol, tobacco, gambling and pornography have fitted the ‘usual suspects’ bill for long enough. Increasingly, however, in the wake of the recent financial meltdown across Europe, we’re seeing a new contender in the unpopularity stakes.  You’ve probably noticed a new breed of financial services company that’s emerged recently in the UK – and they don’t enjoy a very good press. Yes, we’re talking about online companies that charge thumping rates of interest for the privilege of borrowing relatively small amounts of cash for just a few weeks or months.  They’ve even devised innocuous-sounding names for their services such as Payday Loans or Logbook Loans. The fact is, these are serious money-making machines that many people feel are on the very edge of what is acceptable in lending to vulnerable people at annual percentage interest rates (APRs) that can run as high as 4,000 per cent or more. The mainstream lenders have ‘done a runner’ and what little lending they do is often on a ‘fair weather friend’ basis.  In other words, they’ll only lend you an umbrella when the sun is shining. On this basis, it’s true that the ‘new lenders’ are performing a public service, but where else can the public go when their finances are tight, maybe someone in the family has lost his job, and they’re confronted with a financial emergency such as a broken TV or washing machine, dental bills or a leaking roof.   Is it ethical business? One of the ethical dilemmas that surround... Read more...