Banking: The Impact of Netflix’s Bank of Dave on Financial Inclusion and Community Development
The Bank of Dave: A Story of Financial Inclusion and Economic Justice
Last month, Netflix released Bank of Dave, a ‘true-ish’ story based on minibus seller-turned-lorry seller-turned self-made millionaire, Dave Fishwick. The film follows the trajectory of Dave’s ambition to take on the big banks in the City of London and open the first local bank in 150 years. Now the story is true, Dave Fishwick is a real person, and he really is a businessman who offers loans to people in his local community. The ‘Bank of Dave’ is also in the process of becoming fully regulated in the UK, and currently operates as an independent loans company under ‘Burnley Savings and Loans’.
The film raises some interesting questions for the future of our financial system as at present, big banks are vying for deregulatory legislation post-Brexit to boost profits, propping up the fossil fuel industry, and continuing to receive government handouts whilst profiting off of the cost of living crisis. Despite multiple embellishments within the story to raise the stakes of the plot (what’s a Netflix film without drama?) the concept of an economic system that prioritises green investment, financial inclusion and economic justice are the exact underpinnings of a fair, green economy that we’re striving towards. And despite the flaws in Bank of Dave, it grants us the opportunity to venture beyond the failed economic model that prioritises growth and profit over the wellbeing of people and planet.
Following Dave’s initial application to the Financial Regulation Board (FRB) (the film’s equivalent of the Prudential Regulation Authority) to open a bank, we learn how the board is determined to maintain the prestige and exclusivity of financial services. We’re introduced to the main antagonist, Sir Charles Dengbigh, a former member of the FRB who proclaims, “The FRB exists to make sure that people’s hard-earned money is entrusted to the… right kind of chap.” The police turn up at Dave’s office and arrest him on suspicion of loan sharking. This leads to a dramatic court scene whereby his big shot London-based lawyer, Hugh Stockwell, makes the case that the banks are deliberately undermining his application due to his background and by extension – denying the local community the privilege of a community bank. The judge, unconvinced by the evidence, ends up throwing the case out and the press coverage ramps up even more public support for the ‘Bank of Dave’. With the FRB plan thwarted, rather than use dirty tactics to obfuscate Dave’s plans, they shift their strategy and decide it’s (about) time they ‘play by the rules’, but are confident they still have the upper hand as they are responsible for regulating the industry.
- The UK banking sector is highly concentrated, with the Big 4 banks (HSBC, Lloyds, Barclays and RBS) accounting for 77% of all bank deposits.
- The UK banking sector is highly profitable, with the Big 4 banks collectively making a pre-tax profit of £21 billion in 2019.
- The UK banking sector is highly exposed to the fossil fuel industry, with the Big 4 banks providing over £90 billion in finance to fossil fuel companies between 2016 and 2019.
- The UK banking sector is highly regulated, with the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) responsible for ensuring that banks are safe and sound.
The story of Bank of Dave serves as an example of how it is possible to challenge the status quo and build a financial system that works for people and planet. It is a testament to the power of financial inclusion and economic justice, and a reminder that the current banking system is not the only option.
Bank of Dave is an inspiring story of a man who fought against the odds to create a local bank that serves his community. The film raises important questions about the future of our financial system and the need for a shift towards green investment, financial inclusion and economic justice. It serves as a reminder that the current banking system is not the only option, and that it is possible to challenge the status quo and build a financial system that works for people and planet.