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Traffic wardens, investment bankers and easy targets

panacea comment for Advisers

11 Feb 2014

I drove into London last month, fed up with the journey by train (door to my City meetings takes some two and a half hours) to travel just under forty miles.

Anything is better than a 75 minute Wokingham to Waterloo train journey. I really do not see the point of HS2 when 30 minutes taken off my journey and that of thousands of others in the Thames Valley would represent a far better spend.

Anyway, the point of this blog and my mutterings in the headline, is about how the little guy is always such an easy target and the headline is my knee jerk reaction to events after I parked in Gresham Street, paying for three hours parking by phone, to go to a series of meetings secure in the knowledge that I was not going to get a ticket. 

I returned with plenty of time to spare and to my horror, anger and every other negative emotion and muttered expletive in relation to the subject, a warden had it would seem, stood beside my car for the required five minutes and decided that my car was not parked close enough to the kerb.

The cost of his dodgy, fiscally impaired eyesight was an £80.00 fine, reduced to £40 if I admitted guilt, rolled over and died by paying early. 

But I was within the lines, by length…. and by width, my rear tyres were on the lines, not outside as the offence on the ticket would suggest.

I appealed and lost, despite taking a photo to support the appeal. This is another great British example of invisible authority hitting easy, revenue raising targets while so many other infringements go unchecked like cyclists ignoring basic rules of the road, litterbugs, motorists on phones, thieves, rapists, drug dealers, benefit cheats, illegal immigrants, robbers and investment bankers. 

Why investment bankers? 

Well simply put, because individually they really are not an easy target to hit with regulatory punishments for wrongdoing.

Small businesses in financial services however are seen as very easy to hit, an exact inversion of the theory of easy to hit targets, as in the bigger the target……. 

In a supervisory notice published last month, the FCA says an adviser failed to invest sums, as agreed or at all, and provided false information to clients.

It says he acted with a lack of honesty and integrity and the notice says “one customer made out a cheque for £35,000 to Fincher in January 2002 for him to invest in the best products on the market”.

And they are quite right, an adviser ‘trousering’ £35,000 is seen as a representation of a “lack of honesty and integrity”. The guy will rightly go to jail for 3-5 years no doubt along with the few others who have committed similar offences last year

Yet in the same week, Lloyds get a fiscal slap on the wrist with the regulators largest ever retail conduct fine of £28m and nobody is hung out dry. It means nothing, no collars felt, no business in ruins, no possible jail term, bonuses are still paid.

But why is the little guy, and not a ‘fat bastard’ banker who can cover up losses he made of some $2billion with someone else’s money always hung out to dry by regulators? 

What stands out for me in all this, is that as yet, we’ve seen no enforcement against individuals at the top of banks. Not even Paul Flowers!

Until this happens, regulation is pointless, unfair and irrelevant.

A bit like my parking ticket really.

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Comments (2)

Not even I can argue against that! Not only that, but compare Lloyds £28million against its turnover or profits or any other metric against that of the small guy - who actually pays the fine out of his own pocket. Banks have shareholders to take the sarain and in the case of Lloyds the taxpayer chips in too.

Harry Katz   17/02/2014   09:05
Regulatory capture at its finest; to big to fail & too to gaol. it is not just in the UK but all across the world.

FWIW here is a good take on it in my view, looks at USA but applicable across the developed world:

Stuart Rathbone   17/02/2014   10:06


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