The banking pledge that flushes out the good guys

The World Economic Forum is weird.

In a variant of that timeless, black-cabbie comment of having had "that wotsisname in the back of my car", one really is quite likely to bump into "that David Cameron, that Goldie Hawn or that Matt Damon".

For a week, every year, the second division ski-resort becomes the first division 'meet and greet' focus for world leaders - political, economic, journalistic, commercial and charitable.

Sleighs and a broom under lock and key in Davos Credit: ITV News/Alastair Stewart

I was there as an ambassador for the charity Care International UK who, in partnership with Plan UK and Barclays Bank, are pushing the 'Banking on Change' initiative.

The sums are staggering.

Over 2.5 billion people are financially excluded - they live a hand-to mouth existence and any surplus their work may yield is hidden in a tin or a box. It is not safe and it certainly isn't working for them.

The individual amounts I am talking about, for a family in Africa say, may be minute; but collectively the wealth of the 'financially excluded' is estimated at more than $130 billion.

Bill Clinton with Zainabu Rashid looking at the impact of ‘Banking on Change’ Programme in Tanzania Credit: ITV News/Alastair Stewart

'Banking on Change' is into its third year and today was about launching a charter: ensuring the need for transparency; under-writing the watching brief of the charities; stressing the need for financial education; and underlining the collective nature of the effort - it isn't just Barclays, though they were one of the three founding partners.

Now, because it was Davos, among those attending our intimate breakfast session were the chief executive of the Clinton Global Initiate; Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, the former UN 'big beast'; Pierre Nanterme, chairman & CEO of Accenture, the global consulting group; Charlie Scharf, CEO of Visa; the Philippine's Senator Bam Aquino; the Governor of the Bank of Kenya; and Lionel Barber, the editor of the Financial Times.

It was a fascinating debate, focusing on the timely collision of the needs of those who are un-banked and exposed to loan-sharks with the need for many banks to put their houses in order as the public remains frustrated and angry with deceit and excess.

Anthony Jenkins, the still relatively new boss of Barclays, knows that more clearly than many; he welcomes the weight of the charities in this partnership. They couldn't do it without his financial muscle but he'd find it a much tougher 'sell' without their moral might.

More customers for the beastly bankers, I hear some mutter.

Well, here's what struck me: this is the sort of thing that flushes out the good guys who don't acquiesce to the presence and potency of the non-profit voluntary sector because it gives them good cover: they actively encourage it and insist upon it. And it's two to one.

Good, honest banking is both the oil and the glue for any economy - emerging, maturing or even those on their 'uppers', seeking a fiscal defibrillator.

It is the 'good, honest' bit that matters most and that is what dominated our conversation this morning.

That said, It amused me as I left the hotel to see two sleighs, propped up against a pillar - chained together and changed to the pillar.Even in Davos, you can never be too safe...