Lloyds chief gives an emotional address

By Candice Krieger, March 5, 2009

Eric Daniels was close to tears this week — and it had nothing to do with the takeover of the beleaguered HBOS.

The Lloyds Banking Group chief made a moving speech to more than 260 business professionals, including Times editor James Harding, Alderman Ian Luder, Lord Mayor of the City of London, and the group’s chairman Sir Victor Blank, at a Jewish Care business breakfast on Monday.

Daniels choked with emotion as he told an anecdote from his earlier career at Citibank’s Latin America division, where he cut his teeth in the industry and spent 25 years. He said: “There was a time when my boss came to town and asked me what I wanted to achieve on a personal level. He really made me think about my legacy.

“When I was in Panama setting up the retail banking division I hired someone called Cristobal. I asked him what he wanted to achieve. He said: ‘I want to be Don [honourable] Cristobal.’”

Daniels said he saw him years later at his leaving party. “He was sitting in the front row and I was touched.” Dubbed the “quiet American”, Daniels was clearly emotional, even apologising for being so, but managed remain composed.

He also talked about his route into banking — he started out working in a paint factory — and the good fortune that helped him along the way.

As for the future, he said his biggest concern is Britain’s education system, labour productivity and the natiaon’s savings rate.

“I love my job. But it pains me when we don’t get it right or don’t give good advice.” Well, yes, us too.

So bankers, it seems, are human after all — which might come as a surprise to some.

Sponsored by Linklaters, the Jewish Care breakfast raised more than £45,000.

Last updated: 2:34pm, March 11 2009