Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How to Make Friends and Influence Regulators

We've all been on the receiving end of one or more of those inadvertant "Reply All" emails, and have probably sent one or two ourselves. I for one enjoy them immensely, as they are (1) generally unflattering of me and (2) copied to numerous people, thereby increasing the humiliation of the sender 10-fold when their error is uncovered. Of course, if there is any chance of that error remaining uncovered, I blow that possibility to hell by hitting the "Reply All" myself, in response.

Here is the most recent (and possibly the most cherished) email faux pas of which I have been both victim (indirectly) and witness. A little background: The securities commissions in Canada undertake reviews of public disclosure of Canadian companies and communicate with them regarding any deficiencies on a regular basis. If the company is also listed on a Canadian stock exchange, the stock exchange is copied on the correspondence. Recently, one of the commissions sent such a letter to a company listed on our exchange, and copied us on it, as per usual. One of the company's officials promptly responded to the issues raised, and then copied his fellow directors and the company's legal counsel on his response. He also copied the securities commission in question, and several exchange officials, including myself (all of which was done intentionally). One of the company's directors who had been copied on the response then hit "Reply All" to provide some further editorial on the matter, to his fellow directors. He failed to appreciate that his colleague's original response had been directed to the various regulators, as well as to the directors/lawyers. Thus, the response was circulated to a great many people it ought not to have been. The content was as follows (all names changed to protect the idiots).

"Chuck, I have found with the exchange that when they are wrong (and in my experience it is often) they need to be told in no uncertain terms as long as the response is sincere and not too degrading to them. My rapport with the exchange has always been based on the principle that they work for me as well as shareholders and if they err, they should be informed for everyone's benefit. I've also noticed in one instance that when they decided to try to bully me I stood fast and, like all bullies, they backed down. I support your response Chuck and am sure it will have the desired effect. Tom"

Now, firstly, I had no idea that I reported to so many people. Thousands of you, by the looks of it. So, in light of that, please feel free to lob any additional critiques or suggestions my way. Secondly, it's my job, under the appropriate circumstances, to kick people out of the marketplace. Could stupidity be a sound reason for me to do this? And by that, I'm not limiting "stupidity" to hitting "Reply All" to a bunch of regulators, but also to the fact that the Exchange didn't actually write the letter in question. Lastly, nothing warms the cockles of a regulator's cold black heart quite like being called a bully. We thrive on it. We really do. Keep it coming. I'm sure it will have "the desired effect".

My response, you ask?

I hit my own "Reply All" with "Thanks for sharing Tom. Feedback is always appreciated." Funny, I never heard anything back. Seemed he got his itchy "Reply" finger under control.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Silly Pet Tricks

ok, ok, I've been remiss, but I have very little to say these days. Here's the star of the show.