ICT Views

Regulators, mount up!

by: (Associate Director, Research and Development) on

I’ve been writing blogs for the best part of a year now.  I have to admit, I quite enjoy it. Especially for ICT, as the ‘tone’ is, by design, more informal. There is room to be a bit more creative.

Random and/or niche

Lily (our Marketing Manager & In-house Social Media Don) does occasionally (read: frequently) comment that I have a habit of straying into the domain of the random and/or the niche. And could I try and bear in mind our wider international audience next time please.

Generally speaking, Lily is right. But I am usually circumnavigating pop-culture trivia to get to a particular point or make a particular comparison.  So, heedless of Lily’s requests, off we go…


Are you familiar with the Brat Pack ? They featured in a swathe of 1980s movies. One of the famous ensemble films (for some of the older male Brat Pack contingent at least) was a 1988 western called Young Guns.

For anyone unfamiliar with this not-really-seminal piece of filmmaking, you can find a jaunty review of it in the Guardian website here.

Essentially, the story involved a selection of cowboys, all with different attitudes, objectives and skills, trying to round up a huge herd of cattle (who wander off in different directions), whilst also trying to keep the cows & ranch safe from the ever present threat of the bad guys. And the name of the cowboy gang? They were called ‘Regulators’.

See where I’m going with this?

The Analogy 

There seems to be a plethora of content here for comparison.

Admittedly I’ve never worked directly for a financial services regulator (or herded cattle), but I can imagine that overseeing the financial services industry could feel a lot like herding cattle. Some move slowly; some fast. Some are huge and ponderous,; others young and nimble. Some will listen to you; others will do what they want no matter how hard you try. Some are happy with the hay; others want to eat the grass in next field whilst no-one’s looking.

Then there are the bad guys. The criminals.

They’re also looking out for the cows. But not in a friendly way. They want to use them for their own nefarious purposes. Or turn them into steaks. They want to milk them for everything they can (see, metaphors work !) They try and distract them and want to make money from them. The criminals are endangering the cows and the safety of the whole herd.

The Regulators need to keep these criminals away from the cows, to make sure they can go about their cow-y business in a fair, legitimate and unthreatened manner. And they also need to keep an eye out for the odd cow which may be up for some illegal butter production if the price was right.

Finally there are the Regulators themselves. In reality, there are bound to be different characters, with differring objectives and different methods of operating. There can be background machinations, politics creeping in, and competition for influence. The Regulators also have to deal with powerful external influences, particularly the Lawmen.

Ultimately, the cows might not be sure which Regulator they should be listening to or whether the round-up is being done proactively or reactively in accordance with the prevailing rules or principles affecting the ranch.


So there we have it. A complicated business this regulating - hard work for all parties concerned.

If I’m honest, how I’ve described it above isn’t exactly what happens in the film. To use movie parlance, it is an ‘inspired by’ scenario. I have strayed from the script a bit. But there are so many good similarities to highlight (beyond just the use of the word ‘Regulators’) it seemed a shame to pass up the comparison.

There is the odd flaw in my analogy too. The Guardian article comments on the “impressively authentic facial hair”. No matter how hard I try, I simply can’t extend the metaphor to make moustaches a requirement for a modern day Financial Services Regulator, no matter how prevalent they were in the Wild West cowboy community.


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