Friday, 7 October 2016

Stories Ripped From Today’s Headlines

There’s an old Monty Python sketch wherein a self defense instructor teaches students how to defend themselves against attackers wielding a slew of different weapons. Weapons like passion fruit, oranges, apples, grapefruit (whole and segmented), pomegranates… The list of “weapons” goes on and on.

The students, of course, are more concerned with real life scenarios, like an attacker brandishing a pointed stick. The solutions to these vicious fruit-filled attacks are just as ludicrous, including a 16-ton weight expected to fall magically from wherever one might be attacked.

And while we sit back and laugh, don’t we train our teams in the same fashion when we subject them to lengthy PowerPoint presentations and lectures? Sure, we use imposing fonts and maybe even throw in a skull and crossbones, but in the end we’re teaching through abstraction. In other words, we’re telling, not showing.

“These transgressions are very, very, very serious,” you might bellow to a mostly awake roomful of employees. “And this 20-year old stock photo of a frustrated guy in a suit rending his garments is all the proof you need!”

Which is why we create stories “ripped from today’s headlines.” Take for example “Tuesdays With Bernie” episode 1, series 1, “You Just Might Learn Something.” It’s our pilot episode and introduces us to Simon, who’s been “volunteered” to visit former employee and former free citizen Bernie in prison in an effort to make Bernie feel like he hasn’t been forgotten by the firm they both work for.

On his first visit, Simon learns about prison ethics, the greatest oxymoron since “jumbo shrimp.” Or the lack therein. Simon watches in horror as Bernie manipulates the prison market in order to boost his own personal stock amongst the other inmates and guards. A shrewd business tactic, to be sure, but only for business done behind bars.

The astute viewer, however, will recognize this as a case of spoofing. Not because the astute viewer has been keeping up on compliance issues, but because the astute viewer has probably been paying attention to the news and knows a US court has sent a spoofer to prison for five years; the first such conviction under America’s tough new regime. Roughly the same amount of time our friend Bernie will serve in “Tuesdays With Bernie.”

Even if the viewer is not so astute, this episode will help your team learn the difference between permissible trading activities and spoofing. Discussing the true life case will provide further reasons not to spoof the market – up to ten reasons (or just five reasons with good behavior), to be exact.


In matters of compliance, it is somewhat difficult to lead by example or provide hands on experience. But seeing dramatic and hilarious compliance violations on screen and the consequences of these violations in the headline may be just the 16-ton weight your team will ever need to practice ethical and legal trading in your office.

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