Fairness and adversity in regulation
About 60 miles north of Kingston, Jamaica, in the jungles surrounding Port Antonio, there is a course in offshore regulatory compliance.
On any given day, participants experience temperatures in the high 80s with humidity about 70 per cent. The humid air drapes their uniforms as imperceptible mosquitoes make constant runs against any exposed skin.
Everything is wet; if not by rain, then by dew or sweat. The participants are given boots, which are quickly caked in mud and feel like they weigh a ton. The jungle hats do shield their eyes from the sun but increase the heat on their heads.
Participants are issued the recently purchased SA-80 rifle. The metal parts heat quickly in the sun; and even quicker when being shot. The moving parts rub metal against metal. The heat causes slight burns on their hands, and produces a distinctive smell of gunpowder, melting plastic and sweat.
The course starts before 6am. If they are lucky, participants wake up in tents or rickety thatches which would fail building codes just about anywhere. They learn to eat quickly and perform some form of a morning routine which makes them less sticky, sweaty and tired, but never really clean. Hot running water is a luxury at Titchfield Camp. The participants will take army trucks along potholed roads into the nearby hills and mountains. They will run, jump, swim and shoot. They will eat something akin to food but its anyone's guess if the pre-packaged food is really “ham” or just something which takes the appearance of it. There will be a break of sorts.
Participants mostly will hunker under the shade of a tree with a pack a cigarettes. Entertainment consists of foul jokes, crude behaviour and a card game of Euchre. Whoever draws the short straw gets the water and by the time they get back, break is over. Back to training. Rinse, lather, repeat.
There was a similar course in 2001 in the Moroccan desert. One night, an Irishman in British military uniform took a knee, lit a cigarette and stood up again. Like the Jamaican course, this one was hard and unpleasant. The nature of the course demonstrated to participants that the playing field was uneven. The Irishman was asked how he did it, how he just kept going, no matter the pain, the hour, the training, the hunger. He said casually, as if saying something overwhelmingly obvious: “It's a big boys' game, and it's big boys' rules.”
In the offshore world, we're dealing with wave after wave of regulatory challenges. Hardly a week goes by without some further news about our perception in the international financial sector. The US Foreign Accounts Tax Compliance Act, forcing firms to register with the US Internal Revenue Service, seems to have been the ‘tip of the spear'. Before the ink was dry, the Common Reporting Standard arrived.
Internally, Bermuda has been wrestling with numerous challenges, such as regulating corporate service providers. And an impending review of Bermuda's anti-money laundering regime will undoubtedly create new regulatory initiatives.
It seems never-ending, adverse and unfair.
It probably is. After all, the offshore world operates in the multi-trillion dollar international financial sector with the likes of New York City and London and the rules are set by the US and European Union. Adversity seems to be a natural part of this equation. The soldiers of the Royal Bermuda Regiment in Jamaica and Royal Irish Regiment in Morocco, seem to appreciate the simplicity that adversity is to be expected. The playing field is not even.
If this concept is so well understood by the “simple soldier” perhaps a little less circumstantial lamenting in the face of the overwhelmingly obvious will get us to spend time on the things we can change, versus the things we cannot. Luckily, in Bermuda we have the precedent laid down by the Bermuda Monetary Authority with Solvency II. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Jarion Richardson, FICA, CAMS, is the managing principal of Certainty, a compliance and regulatory consulting firm. Their website is www.certainty.bm