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Opinion

Slumming it at COP26

Some bankers arriving in Glasgow came down to earth with a bump.

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The surge of interest in COP26 from deep-pocketed bankers, investors and corporate executives was a source of bitter resentment for activists and even delegates, who found themselves priced out of accommodation in Glasgow and relying on the kindness of strangers.

Yet even the financiers were not all housed in the style to which they are accustomed.

US banks, by and large, did pretty well by their staff. In the weeks before COP, when every conversation about the conference started with “Have you got somewhere to stay?”, Euromoney tried the gambit on a US banker.

It was met with a blank look and the rather damping response: “Naturally. Our bank realized this conference would be important at the start of the year and acted accordingly.”

Still, this had its advantages. After days of trying to find a quiet spot to chat in the chaos of the official Blue Zone, Euromoney was delighted to have the chance to interview a senior US banker in a luxury boutique hotel where the only distraction was the attentions of the in-house Labrador.

Less far-sighted

Alas for their employees, European banks were less far-sighted, or perhaps more budget-constrained. Several continental bankers told sorry tales of having their Airbnbs cancelled at the last minute as Glaswegian hosts took advantage of surging prices.

None seemed quite as discombobulated, however, as the very senior German executive who found himself staying in a motorway hotel on the M8 next to an Amazon logistics centre.

So unhappy was he with his unusually sub-standard accommodation that he promptly rang up Gleneagles, Scotland’s premier five-star resort, to ask if they had any spare rooms.

“They just laughed at me,” he said sadly. “They said they’d had the French delegation booked in for a year.”

Euromoney also laughed, but perhaps too loudly – as a flustered staff member rushed in to tell us that the air vent above our heads opened directly into the room where the banker’s CEO was holding a client meeting…

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