Bankaholics Anonymous – 12 Steps to Reforming the Banking System

8th August 2012

For that we have to look beyond the latest scandals engulfing the banking sector, whether Libor fixing or money laundering, and into the behaviour of the individuals themselves.

Alcoholics Anonymous uses a 12 step program for those who have overcome addiction to begin to help new members in the early stages of addressing their problem. These are not fixed rules but help to provide a framework for discussion.

The first step is to acknowledge that an addict has become powerless – that they have reached rock bottom. Measures such as quantitative easing may have prevented the banks reaching their nadir but our attempts to pull them back from the precipice raise a number of questions.

Have we become beholden to a myth that the banks can be preserved as they are reformed? Can those within it begin to change their behaviour while they maintain the semblance of control?

Below are the 12 steps as re-imagined for the financial sector:


1. We admitted we were powerless over financial speculation-that the system had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the Public as we understood Them.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to the Public, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have the Public remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked the Public to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought to improve our conscious contact with the Public, as we understood Them, asking only for knowledge of Their will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to our peers, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


For those in doubt over whether they have a problem, Gamblers Anonymous provides a set of 20 thought-provoking questions that are worth considering.


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