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Sack stats attack

by: (Associate Director, Research and Development) on

Happy 2013 blogosphere.

Or is it ? Hmm.

My last blog was about the state of financial services . And it seems this particular subject is far from old news in the UK. New year, same stories.

Bad Press

Reuters published an article yesterday detailing that “The number of financial services staff sacked or suspended in Britain last year for reasons such as wrongdoing reached the highest level in five years”.

Well, Joe Public, that doesn’t sound good does it?

“1,373 individuals were dismissed or suspended from financial services jobs - as distinct from those who lost their jobs through general redundancy programmes - a 56 percent increase on the previous 12 months.”

In fact, it sounds pretty shocking.

To me, it paints an image of pantomime villains (rather appropriate at this time of year). Perhaps wearing capes and top hats wiith extravagant moustaches, cackling as they empty the vaults of your money into bags marked ‘swag’.

He’s behind you !

OK, so I am being a bit facetious about this.

It is bad. Very bad. Lots of money, time and resources are being lost. The law is being broken, innocent people are suffering and a startling lack of governance, ethics and probably even personal morality are being demonstrated. That’s before we even consider reputational damage and the further impacts this has on customers, shareholders et al.

But there is an alternative perspective. The one which I considered and prompted me to write this blog.

All these people getting caught is great !

Why is this good news ?

Because the more of these people who are found out, the brighter the future should be.

Yes, it would be brilliant if everyone was behaving themselves. Brilliant, but hugely unlikely.

If you have 1,373 individuals doing bad stuff, and none of them are identified, then they can merrily carry on with their frauds, insider trading, rate rigging etc etc.

The more you stop, the better off you are. The fact is that the actual number of swag-bagging villains is likely to be way more than the 1,373 mentioned (which admittedly includes people disciplined for poor performance or sacked for various reasons other than ‘wrongdoing’).

What I’m getting at, essentially, is that it is naive to think that everyone is working within the laws and rules. People aren’t like this. Not all of them, anyway. 

Statistics, statistics

The key to this story isn’t in the headline, but in the fact that there is an increasing appetite to stop those who are mis-behaving.

The fact that 1,373 individuals were dismissed or suspended from financial services jobs looks bad at first glance, but is a good thing – it means action is being taken.

Imagine if it were 13,730. Does this mean there are more misbehaving, or just more misdemeanours being uncovered  ?

Even more shocking. Or even better ?

Just depends which way you look at it.

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