29 Aug 2015

Money Laudering: what is a 'suspicious' transaction?

Apart from finance professionals being clairvoyants it is extremely tricky to safely fulfil the regulator's insistence to report all suspicious transactions. With hindsight it is always possible for authorities to hit banks and asset managers with a big club and claim a transaction should have been reported. The only really safe procedure would be to report ALL transactions and put the burden of compliance on the shoulders of the regulators. Alternatively there should be an EXHAUSTIVE and detailed checklist giving details of any signs that should arouse suspicion. As always we want to remind readers that in our opinion poor and unnecessary legislation or sloppy work by police authorities are the real reasons for the anti-money laundering hysteria. There was no more crime before the politicians invented the need to control citizens more and more in a costly, intrusive - and ultimately ineffective - way.

10 Aug 2015

Credit Suisse: Old wine in new bottles?

Sad as it is to see a proud Swiss institution (again) unable to find a local candidate to fill the vacancy at the top of the organisation I watch with interest the first pronouncements of its newly-installed CEO. But apart from the unresolved question of whether or not it is wise to combine the business of banking with asset management (there is a strong argument in favour of independent asset managers) it is quite an irony that Credit Suisse is now supposed to find salvation in asset management - after having shed quite a few parts of the business during the past few years. And do the private banking clients really want to be 'cross-sold' the goodies that the investment bankers are 'incentivised' (to put it mildly) to create for them?
Tidjane Thiam may have done a creditable job at Prudential but he was promoted in March 2009, at the very bottom of the bear market. Talking of good timing!