20170808 Nigel’s August 2017 Newsletter

Tuesday, 8 August, 2017 – 06:51


It’s been a long while since I did a personal newsletter to my 20,000 plus contacts. A lot’s been happening that isn’t work related and one of the things that got shoved aside has been this monthly note.

Let’s get started…

It’s what the UK media calls “The Silly Season.” It got its name because it’s that part of summer where nothing meaningful happens to fill the newspapers and so they resort to “man bites dog” and “small earthquake in Venezuala, no one hurt” style stories to fill their pages.

But in today’s globalised news environment, where stories are available around the world, around the clock, there is no obvious silly season. Courts no longer take a long vacation in which only emergency business is done and cases are heard almost every day. And, of course, because financial crime, especially money laundering and fraud, are all day, every day offences, there is no time for a break. Worse, there is a particular brand of terrorist that takes pride in attacking the innocents at play, where and when they least expect it.

Even more, governments and regulators seem to take a perverse delight in issuing new stuff at times when staffing levels are depleted: summer holidays in the northern hemisphere are mirrored with winter holidays in the south; around the tropics, mid-year holidays are common as those who can escape the worst of the mid-year heat and humidity.

The case of Commonwealth Bank has peaked in the middle of the silly season, as as the rather bad news that New Zealand has passed, almost unamended, its latest law to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Why is it bad news? It’s because it’s a really, really badly phrased piece of legislation, contorted and complex and difficult to follow and implement. Laws should be unequivocal, leave nothing to interpretation and should be simple to bring into effect within organisations. That is true everywhere but especially so in a minute financial services industry such as is present in New Zealand, where costs of compliance are disproportionate compared to those in countries with much larger financial institutions where costs can be spread over many times more customers.