Clearing Banks

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Clearing banks

It’s normal in South East Asia for a feng shui man to oversee any major building project. Everyone in Singapore knew that the late Master Swan Lek supervised the building of the eccentrically placed Casino and that Grand Master Tan Khoon Yong succeeded him. It’s also common knowledge that the architect Richard Rodgers incorporated feng shui into the design of buildings in Hong Kong. Even I once impressed clients buying a condominium in Kuala Lumpur by identifying the style of the feng shui of the development and from that telling them correctly which apartment would have been handpicked for the architect to occupy. That’s the Far East of course; they do things differently there.

There is however no question but that some of the biggest organisations in the world are using feng shui on a grand scale. And not just in the Far East but here in London. You only have a to look at the shape and position of certain buildings like the MI6 building or Swiss Re (known of course as “the Gherkin”) to be sure.

Usually they’re secretive about it. It’s relatively unusual for blatant feng shui to take as high a profile as the current HSBC advertising campaign: the one in the Sundays. With the stack of books.

HSBC may have its HQ in the square mile but its roots of course are in Shanghai and it shares house colours with the Bank of China: red on white. This is the red of Fire melting the white of Metal into liquid capital. Which may sound contrived but only one British clearing bank has required no shoring up; this one. The feng shui seems to be working.

An example of a bank that seems to have ignored feng shui altogether is the Union Bank of Switzerland, current record holder (at £2+ billion) of the biggest fraudulent trading bill in history, whose City HQ is drastically undermined. Go and have a look. I’ve looked at the void under that building close up and it was always asking for trouble.

The HSBC ad features the usual red and white and the Dragon emblem (meaning power) plus fortuitous « 8»s and «g»s as well as a kind of staircase of books apparently bound in green leather. There are twelve books just as there are twelve Animals (the staircase leading into 2012, I guess). The Wood colour green is an innovation, presumably to represent this Rabbit year and each volume is marked with a Roman numeral from I to XII which for many masters is shorthand for the Twelve Animals, I being Rat, XII Pig and so on.

Is this coincidence? If it is, so are the infinity symbols and interest rates featuring 8’s.

Human rights and the environment are another issue the Chinese being the pragmatic people they are, but one of the thousand Chinese Masters I’ve never met, is orchestrating this feng shui and it seems to be doing what it’s supposed to.

Thought you’d like to know.

Richard Ashworth.

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