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Financial services. Not as bad a do-it-yourself.

by: (Associate Director, Research and Development) on

This is going to be my last blog of the year. Unless I get invited to something I really don’t want to go to over Christmas, and pull the ‘sorry, I’d love to but I can’t – I promised Lily I’d write a blog…’ line.

Good riddance 2012?

I’m not going to do a review of the events of 2012. There will be plenty of those types of blogs etc knocking about.

Safe to say, it’s been a pretty rough ride for many people out there in Financial Services land and beyond. The ripple effect of which means it’s also been a rough ride for all those with an interest in the stability of the broader financial system - so pretty much everybody then.

Finish in a familiar fashion

But I don’t think it’s been all that bad. The glass is half full right? It can always be worse. There are still positives about the Financial Services industry, in amongst all the kicking it’s getting.

So, just for a change, I’m going to try and prove a point with an allegory. One which on this occasion involves re-decorating my bathroom.

Ignorance is strength?

paintI know a bit about Regulated Financial Services. More than I do about decorating. I’ll admit this. But I needed to repaint my bathroom ceiling. It’s white, but it’s been a few years since it was done and needed a fresh coat of paint.

 Hmm. White over white? I’ve tried that before. Not easy – you can miss bits and not even realise. Then my brother told me about this paint that goes on pink but dries white. What an invention! I need this miracle product. It sounds great. So I hit the local DIY store.

 Exercise caution

But in true compliance fashion, I didn’t get carried away. I read the label. It didn’t say ‘unsuitable for humid environments’, so it must be fine, right? OK then. Paint - check. Brushes - check. Let’s decorate!

And it was great. The ceiling looked lovely. Right up until the shower was switched on and the ceiling turned pink. Doh !

I re-read the tin. I still couldn’t find a warning re: usage kitchens and bathrooms. By this point I was less than happy and had decided I would highlight my dissatisfaction in person with the store concerned.

Customer Service

So I did. The spectacularly disinterested attendant on the Customer Service desk (now there’s a misnomer) looked at the paint and agreed there was indeed no warning that by using it in a humid environment your ceiling may turn a lurid shade of pink. He then kindly pointed out that equally, there was no indication that it WAS suitable for use in kitchens or bathrooms, and enquired as to whether I was aware of their kitchen & bathroom range.

Then ensued what can best be described as a lively debate around the subject of disclosure, and whether by NOT saying something is unsuitable, you infer that it IS suitable. And could I have my money back or get a replacement which performs as I expect it.

And here we arrive (finally) at the point.

Not so bad

This sort of scenario could be relatively easily transplanted into the Financial Services environment. What’s suitable, what’s not, work works, what doesn’t, who cares and who doesn’t.

The point I’m arriving at (in a round-about way) is that for all its faults, the Regulated Financial Service Industry isn’t that bad. There are clear rules within which things are created, advertised and sold. There is a process by which you should be protected, your needs assessed and you have a right to appeal. It doesn’t always work as well as it should, but we should still be grateful, as it would be a whole lot worse without it.

And we’d all have pink ceilings.

Have a great Christmas and a very happy new year.

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