Friday, July 09, 2004


Once upon a time, the standard excuse for bureaucratic incompetence was the computer. Sorry sir, we’d love to help you but the computer won’t let us, the computer is down, the computer is so scary you wouldn’t want to upset it now would you?

This excuse isn’t used so much nowadays. This could mean that computer systems have gotten better, or it could simply mean there are now too many computer literate people in the general population for this excuse to wash.

In the financial services sector, the new excuse is compliance. Sorry sir, you can’t do that here. This morning, a stock broker told me I cannot open an investment account for my children, because of compliance. Compliance with what, I asked. Of course, he didn’t know. I rang another stock broker, who had no problem with my request.