It seems to me that we are entering a crucial phase in our personal and economical development after the seemingly cataclysmic events of the past couple of years. It is time for us all to mature and move on, to accept the harsh lessons learnt, to let bygones be bygones if you like.
The blame game that has been going on for a while has now seen everyone from the government, the bankers, credit agencies, regulators, mortgage brokers, estate agents, the press, the general public, the Americans, the French!, or just men in general bearing the brunt for the credit crunch and ensuing recession.
All of us enjoyed the party and its how you deal with the hangover that really separates the “men from the boys” – or for Ms Harman’s’ benefit the “women from the girls”. However hard the cleanup operation is, however much we convince ourselves that “I’m never drinking again”, we all know that when the good times return, and they will return, no doubt we will all be saying, “Ok, I’ll just have a quick one” and we’ll be off again.
Which brings me on to one of the fundamental proposals over regulation going forward. There has been much debate over the future of the FSA which let’s face it, has been a far from perfect regulator. However, is scrapping it and starting again really the answer? Does the Bank of England really want the job? Is even suggesting that it may be scrapped irresponsible as we need the FSA to be fully focussed now, rather than playing politics just to secure its own future?
Scrapping one body and setting up another will no doubt be expensive, and it means that we will have another period of valuable time spent settling in and learning the ropes, although in all honesty many of those at the FSA now will probably make up the majority of the new entity. Perhaps it would be better to use the experience we have been through now we are high on the learning curve, sit the FSA down with the Bank of England, revisit their defined roles and responsibilities, and deliver a system of governance and regulation that really works.
I believe in second chances, and I do believe, perhaps naively, that no one is going to be able to read the signs of future issues better than those who went through it before and were caught short.
For us as an industry, and I read surveys that 75% of brokers want the FSA abolished, is there not more than a touch of worry that a new system, filled with a keen to impress and appear tough attitude, could actually set us back?
Perhaps we should all let the past go, accept that we all gained from each other and work together for the combined good. Maybe I underestimate the strength of feeling? Maybe I underestimate our maturity at being able to shake hands and say, “we all f***ed up, now let’s get on with rebuilding our lives”. The madhouse has been left behind, consigned to another time.
It is a small world, this crises has shown just how intrinsically linked we all are, and although we will always disagree on the past, it is now time for us to agree on the future.