16 Apr 2013
I was listening with some interest to radio and TV reports concerning the state of sport in UK schools. It would appear that a recent survey has suggested that 75% of schoolchildren would cheat at sport if it meant they or their team would win.
It seems that everyone is at it these days, there seems to be no shame any more in being accused of lying or cheating as long as it means you can get what you want, when you want, from who you want!
Parents are found lying to get their children into their school of choice; civil servants are accused of lying to Parliament e.g. the Goldman Sachs tax bill or the true figures around illegal immigration (although I am sure that the lying track record of some politicians has influenced setting the bar at a new low for these to happen).
What is it about the British psyche that leads otherwise sane, sensible people to lie and cheat and in may cases quite big time? Science is trying to learn more to help counter the opportunist idiot that lurks within utilising lie detectors, face scanners and voice recognition software but still has a way to go.
So when does that little ‘white lie’ turn into something darker that will, if it works, result in considerable sums of cash being collected as the individual “passes go”.
Researchers have found that the average Briton tells, on average, four lies every day. But I suspect that researchers would have some way to go to beat some sectors of the industry for finding opportunistic master-classes in the subject of fraud, and on both sides of the regulatory fence.
What sort of society have we created where this is the ethos instilled in our children?
We can place some blame at the feet of many populist professional sporting role models and will have to go a long way to find shining lights in soccer (the national sporting obsession) but as the BBC says, other sports are available, where high profile cheating can lead to glory, riches and when found out financial ruin and ridicule.
Sports like cycling and athletics are intent on cleaning up their sport from the fallout out of drug created performance, others are still trying.
Is it coincidental that the sports with the most financial reward at stake carry the most influence upon the young and easily influenced? After all, top flight soccer is awash with highly paid (possibly overpaid players) who stamp, spit, shirt pull, fall over dead, watch opponents goals disallowed even though they know the ball has crossed the line and even risk causing extreme injury to either themselves or their fellow professionals to gain a match advantage.
Sports like rugby, cricket, golf, swimming are not without their share of sinners either but strangely their punishments for wrongdoing are far greater when compared to soccer, a sport whose moral compass disappeared completely under a coating of piercings and body art, when shorts got very long again and SKY upped the money once more.
Well unlike the famous saying that “what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas,” with sport, what goes on at the higher levels of sport does not stay put. It infects at every level and the infection is quickly transmitted to the school playground, touchline parents and the playing fields. It is an infection too far.
And as with all things in life, the moral compass does not stop with sport.
As an industry, we have our examples of ‘unsporting behaviour’ in many ways, bad practices, bad products and sadly, rather like in soccer, bad application of the very poorly thought out rules.
Financial services has a very simple core ethos of TCF.
It is for firms to ensure that this simple, easily understood statement manifests itself in their dealings with their customers- the great British consumer.
Sport could do with some of this too, treating fellow competitors and paying fans fairly. And like some sports, financial services can and does punish severely, it also names and shames. But as with any game involving fairness, we as an industry should expect that regulators have some reciprocity with those they regulate.
Regulation has its own versions of “goal line technology” but generally regulation today is hampered by a rulebook that is now so long, well over 8,000 pages, as to be incomprehensible by most if not all it is intended to act as a guide to.
The FCA presents Martin Wheatley with a golden opportunity to fuel some of Michael Fallon’s bonfire of the insanities by considering his “scrap as you go” plan aimed at doing away with (or substantially scaling down) some 3,000 regulations that generally hamper business by the end of next year. This number does not it would seem involve financial services!
In simplifying the rules, concentrating minds on a positive customer experience, a lighter touch regulator might actually surprise itself?