Grampa Simpson

Posted on: February 3rd, 2014

case-picOne of the real perils of advancing years is a tendency to look back on a golden age that never was.
I have reached that point and consequently, the urge is overmastering.
Shouting at the radio and the TV (particularly with the BBC) is well embedded within my makeup now, but am I alone in frustration with the way business is done nowadays?
Yes, technology has moved on and we welcome that, but only for its benign aspects.
Why does Big Data worry me? If its predictive ability of buying habits is true, is it moral to use it? If not, it’s just expensive Emperor’s new clothes.
I have a (now) dim memory of reading Vance Packard’s book, The Hidden Persuaders at school in the 60’s. As far as I remember, it was an exposé of advertising practice, which both fascinated and repelled me by showing how we are all manipulated.
I used the word ‘moral’ above.
It’s a word that seems to have deserted business in general in the perpetual and self defeating pursuit of maximum profit.
Instead, we have to be regulated, because we can’t be trusted. The trouble with this is that regulation, self evidently, can only pick up a problem after the event.
We have seen this, in pellucid and coruscating light, with PPI misselling.
On the one hand, you have a band of lenders, filled with greed for easy money, adding PPI on to loans, with premiums seemingly low enough not to worry, but with commissions large enough to lead away from the path of virtue and on the other, unsophisticated customers who didn’t understand what they were buying and who didn’t realise that a cheap Insurance is only possibly worth the paper it is printed on.
Suddenly, it all goes pear shaped and turns into a compensation fest.
And now, where are the morals on either side of the divide?
I look back to a world where clients, brokers and insurers used to do things because they were right.
One of the most heartwarming examples was that of a broker in Lloyd’s who was broking a fire risk. Unbeknown to him, the risk was alight whilst he was in The Room. The slip placing was not completed by the close of play. The next morning the broker had a deluge of calls from Syndicates who normally wrote his business, offering their usual line, even though the risk was a total loss.
What are the chances of that kind of behavior being repeated today?
If we had more good behavior and led by example, we wouldn’t need to be regulated.