The Dogs are Barking

Originally published | 06/02/2019

“Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.” (William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar).  This quote was spoken by Mark Antony shortly after Caesar’s assassination in the William Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar.

If you believe the media, this seems to have been the outcome of the Royal Commission.  We have Justice Hayne releasing his final report and then we have both the Government and the Opposition crying Havoc in response.

The word havoc, as used in this quote, is a military order permitting the seizure of spoils after victory.  Both political parties are  trying to gain advantage from a situation where there are both winners and losers in the industry.

But step back from the hysteria for a moment.

Why have we, as an industry had a Royal Commission?

A Royal Commission is generally called on any matter connected with the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth or any public purpose or any power of the Commonwealth.

As we all know, the Royal Commission was called after various stories were aired in the media outlining misconduct by the banking sector.  It is important to note that it is impossible to separate the banking sector from the non-banking sector in financial services.  Unfortunately, we are all part of one industry.

In both watching the Royal Commission and reading the transcripts, I would defy anyone to argue that there haven’t been some instances of heinous activity in our industry.  But that doesn’t mean the whole industry is rotten.

The outcome of any Royal Commission is that there has to be recommendations made to protect the public.  These recommendations will now be discussed and debated until we get Legislation to outline how our industry moves forward.

But as I said in a post the other day, this is just another example of the evolutionary cycle that our industry has to go through.

If you believe the industry media however, you would think that the recommendations made are going to mark the death of the industry.  Well we all know that’s not true.

We heard prior to the implementation of the FoFA reforms that the end of the financial advice industry was near, however this didn’t happen and we as an industry adapted.

But some in our sector didn’t adapt and thought they could continue the way things were and that they were too big to be brought to account.  So, the media got wind and the rest as they say is history.

It’s important to not get swept up in the hysteria of the media response to the recommendations.  Let the dust settle, read through the recommendations, and see how we as an industry can get better.

There is a classic line in the audio comedy by the 12th Man, called “Boned” where legendary Australian cricket commentator Ritchie Benaud is visited in a dream by the departed media magnate Kerry Packer.  The context was Ritchie’s firing from the commentary team for that season.  Kerry Packer says to Ritchie “You can be bitter or get better”.

I think that is how we should be looking at things as an industry, we can either be bitter and complain about the recommendations, or we can get better and improve the industry and win back trust.

It’s easy to ride the hysteria wave, but take note of some of the following:

“When the hysteria of a witch-hunt is granted supremacy over the logic, values and spirit of the law, justice can only become a warped, alien concept in that society.” (Steward Stafford)

“The trouble with hysteria is that it’s contagious.” (Romain Gary)

“I warn you that ignorance thrives on hysteria.” (Frank Herbert)

To finish off, I think we can all learn from the John O’Brien poem, Said Hanrahan.

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan – In accents most forlorn, outside the church, ere Mass began, one frosty Sunday morn.

The congregation stood about, Coat-collars to the ears, and talked of stock, and crops, and drought, as it had done for years.

“It’s lookin’ crook,” said Daniel Croke; “Bedad, it’s cruke, me lad, For never since the banks went broke has seasons been so bad.”

“It’s dry, all right,” said young O’Neil, with which astute remark, he squatted down upon his heel And chewed a piece of bark.

And so around the chorus ran “It’s keepin’ dry, no doubt.”

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “Before the year is out.

“The crops are done; ye’ll have your work to save one bag of grain;

From here way out to Back-o’-Bourke they’re singin’ out for rain.

“They’re singin’ out for rain,” he said,

“And all the tanks are dry.”

The congregation scratched its head, and gazed around the sky.

“There won’t be grass, in any case, enough to feed an ass;

There’s not a blade on Casey’s place as I came down to Mass.”

“If rain don’t come this month,” said Dan, and cleared his throat to speak–

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,

“If rain don’t come this week.”

A heavy silence seemed to steal on all at this remark;

And each man squatted on his heel and chewed a piece of bark.

“We want a inch of rain, we do,” O’Neil observed at last;

But Croke “maintained” we wanted two to put the danger past.

“If we don’t get three inches, man, or four to break this drought,

We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “Before the year is out.”

In God’s good time down came the rain;

And all the afternoon on iron roof and windowpane it drummed a homely tune.

And through the night it pattered still, and lightsome, gladsome elves on dripping spout and windowsill – Kept talking to themselves.

It pelted, pelted all day long, a-singing at its work, till every heart took up the song way out to Back-o’Bourke.

And every creek a banker ran, and dams filled overtop;

“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “If this rain doesn’t stop.”

And stop it did, in God’s good time;

And spring came in to fold – A mantle o’er the hills sublime of green and pink and gold.

And days went by on dancing feet, with harvest-hopes immense, and laughing eyes beheld the wheat nid-nodding o’er the fence.

And, oh, the smiles on every face, as happy lad and lass through grass knee-deep on Casey’s place – Went riding down to Mass.

While round the church in clothes genteel discoursed the men of mark, and each man squatted on his heel, and chewed his piece of bark.

“There’ll be bush-fires for sure, me man, There will, without a doubt;

We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan, “Before the year is out.”

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