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Curse of the consultants

Over the years, those of us who are regulated, which I presume is all of us, have frequently been hugely irritated by the arcane, involved, complex and often needlessly bureaucratic systems with which we have had to comply over the years. It has been natural for us to wonder about the mindset of the regulator.

A recent event, absolutely not connected with financial services, has served as a huge wake-up. We are all no doubt aware of the incestuous relationship that the regulator has with management consultants and I have often suspected that much of the nonsense that we have to put up with comes from these firms, most of which have managed absolutely nothing in their careers and seek to tell others how to do it. Let me now get to the point.

My wife is a director of a commercial organisation that supplies well known companies with certain products. One firm has been her regular customer now for something like 15 years. All of a sudden, this firm decides to employ management consultants. Instead of leaving the buying operation to the buyer who is paid to do this work, the management consultants in their wisdom have instituted a process that many commercial organisations are familiar with – something called an e-auction. Only it isn’t quite that simple. I am not privy to all the various details but suffice it to say it takes a full morning to read how you are to submit this auction and an irritating mid-Atlantic voice interjects on the website from time to time. The auction itself runs over four days because the management consultants do not believe that firms will put in their best price to start with. On day one, my wife’s firm put in their best price, because they are not keen on messing about. They went through the painful process of all four days and they still got the work. Of course, price was not the only consideration, quality, service and reliability also play a part. The amount of extra work in preparing for this abstruse, involved and stupid procedure makes our RMAR look like an Andy Pandy reading book. I think that may give you an insight into the nonsense that was required.

This firm has a buying department who presumably have done a good job over the years and who presumably are still employed and who presumably now sit there twiddling their thumbs while these consultants charge a fortune to effectively mess up a perfectly good business.

Do we really wonder why there are so many criticisms of our regulator because it seems apparent they use consultants on a regular basis. Perhaps if our regulator did what they were paid to do, then we would all be better off.

Harry Katz
Norwest Consultants


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