SME Alliance had an excellent day at the 'Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime' on Thursday. Most of the people attending this event are academics, lawyers, bankers, regulators, or experts on economic crime related issues. In fact other than some members of Whistle Blowers UK I don't think 'victims' of economic crime have spoken at the symposium so it was quite a unique opportunity to tell people about the real consequences of economic.
Clive and Nigel have very kindly agreed we can put their speeches up on the website. They are posted in the public interest area – because actually, the public should know more about what happens to SMEs when banks decide to behave badly. I'm posting my speech as well although I sort of dipped in and out of it and also Paul's speech which he didn't have a chance to deliver as we ran out of time in the morning session.
At our afternoon session Steve Middleton, Abhishek Sachdev and Mel Loades gave really interesting and very clear explanations about derivatives, personal guarantees and how they are tackling these issues. I have never fully understood the whole derivatives issue but I am much better informed now and I can honestly say I don't know how the banks got away with such reprehensible behaviour for so long? I asked Abhishek if the sale of such abhorrent products was still happening and he assured me some banks have stopped selling derivatives completely while others are much more controlled in what they can sell. All the same I would ask how they were able to sell them in the first place? And how could they add their clients homes to the situation without their knowledge? This is something Steve is particularly focused on, as is Mel who unwinds these personal guarantees.
I thought the explanations about how these products work to our detriment were so informative I am going to ask some of our advisers to give short talks at our next meeting on 5th October and then do a Q&A for members.
Jesus College is absolutely fantastic and rarely seen in its full splendour because it's hidden behind a high brick wall. Laura came with us to photograph our sessions but she also took lots of photo's of the college – I'll get her to put a selection of photo's up in the next few days. We will also go through the ton of information the symposium organisers supplied (on DVD) and we'll put anything useful to members up in a section of the members area. Clive has already started going through it and says it has the most up to date laws, guidance, regulations etc on economic crime. Given how much there is, it will take us a few days to get this on the site.
I'd really like to thank Professor Barry Ryder for allowing us to attend and also Angela Futter who does such an amazing job organising this event. Most of all I'd like to thank our members who travelled from all over England and also Scotland and Wales, at their own expense to be there. They all did a great job at helping to put SME Alliance on the map. Hopefully next year more members can attend.