Most financial professionals haven’t had much to say in response to the hundreds of protesters flooding the streets of Wall Street (and yesterday, the Upper East Side), arguing that they haven’t really accomplished enough to be taken seriously yet.But not John Paulson, and not Vikram Pandit.
Pandit spoke today at a breakfast event hosted by Fortune called A Conversation with Vikram Pandit.
Asked what he would say if a group of protesters came up to him, he said: “Their sentiments are completely understandable. The economic recovery is not what we want it to be. There are a number of people in this country who cannot achieve what they want to achieve and that’s not a good place to be.”
Wall Street broke the trust of their clients, he said. It’s Wall Street’s job to reach out to them and regain that trust, which they can do through more lending to small businesses, more transparency — in essence, practicing responsible finance. He defined responsible finance as making sure that you’re not just moving around and that you are supporting growth. Also, he said, banks should not be speculating with their capital.
“I’d be happy to talk to them anytime.”
Would you tell them that you don’t charge $5 debit card fees, too? The editor of Fortune asked.
“Our debit card has no fees,” Pandit said. “We’ve never charged overdraft fees and we never will.” He said Citi doesn’t hike their rates and “that’s a big part of what everybody needs to do” and what the regulators need to ensure that everyone is doing.