20140704 NOT taking a punt on ISIS

Friday, 4 July, 2014 – 00:00

A few days ago, I started writing a blog called “Taking a punt on ISIS.” The title is a pun (I like headlines that twist language much more than those that scream “Top Ten Ways To…” and then say something utterly banal like “mess up your job application”).

But, oddly, while I was writing the ISIS piece, I came across a discussion on a social media site that related to making false claims in a job application.

The ISIS piece was getting out of hand as a blog article and so, by accident, I suddenly had two articles for World Money Laundering Report.

That was lucky: during my long trip I had neglected both research and commissioning articles. Worse, because the internet service in the UK was so dismal, issue 2 was more than a month overdue and there was a danger that issue 3 would be falling behind too.

But, it turned out that, just two days late, issue three appeared. The funny headline has gone : as the article unfolded, it seemed rather too frivolous. Instead it’s called “ISIS: from freedom fighters to terrorists in 500 miles.”

ISIS is a fascinating case study. In a year it has mutated from rag-tag militant band to a fully functional fighting force with an organised command and control structure, a well stocked armoury, a substantial number of well trained fighters and a war chest that rivals that of some states. The major issue now is that countries are likely to find themselves in a condition of de facto war while having no legal state to be at war with.

Also in WMLR Vol 13 No 3 is a long overdue rant at the appalling supervision of the Solicitors’ profession in England and Wales. My profession. But aside from all the stuff calculated to undermine the profession and the bureaucratic mismanagement and under/non-management of the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (you should see the correspondence they issue – how can they regulate a profession of communicators when they, themselves, fall so far short of basic standards?) now they have finally come round to recognising that money laundering by and using solicitors is a significant issue.

That’s almost 20 years after I held meetings with their predecessors and explained how it happens. But even now they have failed to grasp the important points. It’s pathetic.

There are some other things, too: take a look at www.worldmoneylaunderingreport.com for details.

But I’ve also been setting up a new lecture tour: How to see suspicion more clearly

East: Across Asia Pacific : Middle: Middle East : West: Europe

For judges, investigators, prosecutors, regulators and money laundering risk and compliance officers.

For full details of venues, dates, prices, etc. please see

(Note that the Jakarta date, at the request of several people, has been moved back from the date originally published because they felt it was too close to the end of Ramadan.)

We are more than happy to arrange dates for in-house sessions in government agencies, regulators, professional bodies and of course financial institutions. Just let me know when it would suit you.

SO now the hard work of marketing starts. Some countries are very difficult to market to: they still seem to be obsessed with having their hand held at every stage of the process, completely unwilling to cut the umbilical cord of dealing with sales people, often requiring multiple telephone calls. It’s mindbogglingly inefficient at both ends. The people who really irritate me are those who go to the web page, read the contents, then telephone to read it back to us and say “so ….., right?” Or who read the whole page then phone to confirm the price. “It’s in big bold numbers, you idiot,” I want to shout. Which is why I’m not allowed to take part in the sales process. I’ve been banned since I walked out of meeting with a big bank swearing at the main board, and in particular its IT Director, for wasting my time.

Others are much more like me: give me the information and no BS, I’ll read it, fill in an online booking form and pay if I’m interested. DO NOT phone me and pretend it’s an invitation when in truth its a sales call. If a salesperson lies in the first ten words, how can I trust anything else that’s said?

But more importantly, don’t phone me at all: I want everything documented, nothing oral. I want to know whose fault it is when something goes wrong. So our e-mail and web-only marketing is for everyone’s protection, for simplicity and to prevent the disruption of sales calls.

All we need now is for people to realise that, and that the telephone is their enemy not their friend, and we’ll be fine 🙂

So, to round off: why “taking a punt on ISIS?”

Isis is the river that runs through Oxford and university students like to use flat bottomed boats called punts on the river: they don’t have oars, they have sticks and much frivolity ensues as people get it wrong and fall in. But the word “punt” is also used in gambling as in having a bet which is not fully researched, one in which the gambler doesn’t have much faith in the outcome. So “taking a punt on ISIS” could be seen in two different ways.

Having not used the headline in World Money Laundering Report, I modified it here, providing a further layer of obfuscation. If you can’t work out why, don’t worry. It’s just my mind playing silly games with words.

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to check out the seminar schedule and, perhaps, make a booking.

© 2014 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
All rights reserved

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