And contrary to what people might believe about regulating with loads of red tape being a good thing, I'd like to point out that our banks are regulated to death and were already regulated to death before their so-called "free market collapse". Financial institutions were heavily regulated when Equitable Life mis-sold like bastards. Barings was under the same massive weight of regulation. The regulation hasn't helped all those customers.
What the regulation does do, is create barriers to entry. Look at, for example, massive capital reserve requirements. It sounds fine, but a) they didn't fucking stop the banks from hoovering our wallets to a level never seen before in UK history (which is pricisely what they were supposed to stop) and b) they make it practically impossible to start a bank ever again. So the regulations failed to protect anyone (least of all the banks) and they also stop anyone from stirring up the cosy banking cartel.
So, what I am in favour of is a smart, vicious regulator that can turn around complaints quickly and effectively and punish miscreants with suitably painful fines or other penalties. A sort of meta-OFT with teeth like a tyrannosaur and balls like a rally driver.
Regulations, processes and procedures rarely prevent criminal misbehaviour. They only cover the arses of the people who would otherwise carry the can for their incompetence. And so, it is with no small degree of irony that via Timmy, I present this tale of what happens when you put your faith in regulations, procedures and processes:
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) spends hundreds of thousands of pounds each year urging consumers and businesses to be on their guard against scams. But the taxpayer-funded body failed to notice an alleged major fraud going on under its own roof until £250,000 had gone missing.
How, in the name of all that is holy, can the very body that is supposed to protect us, fail us in this way?
In small print accompanying its annual report, the OFT admitted that the alleged fraud had not been detected because of a “control weakness” in the accounts payable department. The problem saw the OFT lose £97,000 last year and £153,000 the year before.
Them's weasel words, them. Somebody was dependent on process and procedures, rather than using their judgement. And when you have blind faith in regs and processes, this will always be the outcome when someone gets greedy.