Sunday, 20 October 2013

20 more finance clichés

"about to evidence a disconnect"
The irony of Management BS is that addicts use its platitudes as shortcuts to sounding smart or in the know. Meanwhile, it cuts down their vocabularies to a shortlist of overused stock phrases, repeated beyond any would-be intellectual value-addAnd from its high pinnacle on the corporate BS pantheon, financial services are shovelling this ersatz gravitas by the truckloadI last visited the horror story just over a year ago, but the BS continues unabated. So here are another 20 howlers.

It's everywhere, apparently necessity for US Fed coverage. Makes me think of tampons.

Disconnect (noun)
It's fine used as a verb - very useful - but horribly overused as a noun, for any unfilled gap or comms chasm.

Key learnings
This really is PR speak, as in lessons learned, sans any hint of humble pie.

While angry protesters hold placards outside office buildings complaining about fat cats and the "1%", it's perhaps stirring the pot to use a metaphor that encourages you to visualise rotund executive board members reclining on the C-suite's chaise-longues, eating swan canapés and ringing the bell for more Bolly.

Fiscal loosening
More central banking bunkum, sounds like a colonic.

Inflexion point
Or "inflection point" if you prefer, either / or. It haapparent status as investor jargon, meaning the moment when the tide turns for a firm or market (micro or macro, you might say). Why not use pivot? Or fulcrum? Sounds like falconBirds of prey and fighter jets: dynamic imagery indeed.

Anniversary (verb)
As in something this time anniversaries something else that happened a previous time. Sounds ghastly. Thanks to Laurie for this one.

What's the difference between procyclicality and cyclicality?

Evidence (verb)
Another PR speak suggestion from Laurie. Used to sound more factual and forensic than just "showing" or "meaning" something.

Green shoots
There have been so many "green shoots" in the economy since 2009 that you might believe that the wolf that was being cried about had appeared and then pissed all over them.

Impact (verb)
More badly overused PR speak. Repetition has undermined its initial appeal, which I suspect came from its sounding less pugilistic than 'hit' and more decisive, less flaccid than 'affect'.

Results orientated
Pure corporate BS. Presume this means focused rather than daydreaming or licking the windows.

Paradigm shift
I do not know what this means. However, I've looked it up and apparently it is based in science, for when underlying assumptions, laws or theories become altered.

Maybe too useful to discard, but it's just another acronym.

Client focused
Sales, PR or marketing speak at its worst. Works better if you just view it as empty space on the page to pause over while  reading, perhaps imagining you're anywhere else.

Big data
When heard on the lips of those on the sell side of the floor this is indeed a huge topic. It's a lot rarer to hear it shouted about from would-be buyers and actual practitioners. Also it just sounds dumb.

It's a seminar that's done for the web. Awful.

I hesitated at including this one, because it is useful in its investment and regulatory compliance contexts. Still, it gets used so often it sets off the BS alarms for my original gripe about repeating shortcuts to sounding smart. Full marks to The Economist for arbitrageur, seen earlier this month. Sounds pleasingly louche, rakish, debauched.

The current economic environment
Uttered ceaselessly by those concerned with finance today, rarely in historical comparisons to Dutch Tulips or the South Seas Bubble.

Hard landing
Used so often in stories about China's economy that I'm now conditioned to think it inappropriate in the context of any other country

Have I missed any out? For the first 20, click here.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery opens

The new Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery at the National Maritime Museum had its opening party in Greenwich last night, with TV historian Dan Snow as speaker, while your correspondent was also lucky enough to attend.

Or unlucky enough to be suffering a sore head today from the potent rum cocktails on offer, depending on your perspective on things.

In a bit of related news, the museum has secured for the nation a Union Jack that was flown from one of Nelson's warships at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the NMM's director, Kevin Fewster, let slip.

The historic flag had previously been in a private collection, Fewster said, but will now be displayed in the NMM, once the museum takes possession, within the next year.

The Nelson, Navy, Nation gallery opens to the public this Trafalgar Day, that's October 21 (next Monday) for landlubbers. I was attending last night's sneak-peak in a bit of naval capacity, as a member of HMS President, the London unit of the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR).

The new gallery showcases some of the most important artifacts and artwork in Britain's naval history, and therefore for the world's maritime heritage (seeing as the two became so interwoven by Nelson's time).

The centrepiece remains, of course, Nelson's coat, worn when he was shot and mortally wounded at Trafalgar, the moment of his death and also his greatest victory, ushering in a century of imperial Pax Britannica.

I was chatting to a former lecturer of mine from university days, Professor Andrew Lambert of King's College, London, present at the gallery's opening, who has described the tunic as "The Turin Shroud of Naval History".

Blasphemy, perhaps, but understandable from the author of the eminently readable Nelson: Britannia's God of War, as well as being a nice line that rings true among navy geeks.

There are too many precious artifacts presented in the gallery to list, but one beautiful example is an ornate musket presented to Nelson by a grateful Ottoman Emperor, one of many gifts Nelson received after his dramatic victory at the Battle of the Nile, which shattered Napoleon's ambitions in Egypt, the Middle East and India.

These many objects tell the story of the global repercussions of Nelson's and the Royal Navy's victories, not just for securing naval supremacy, but also for advancing global trade, commerce and prosperity.

Dan Snow (pictured, up top) echoed this point in his speech, talking about the ongoing legacy of Nelson's era, observed through the proliferation of British values, like free trade and parliamentary democracy, that we can see in the globalised world of today.

Other speakers at the gallery's opening included Admiral Lord West, Falklands veteran and former First Sea Lord; and Lord Sterling, chairman of the NNM's trustees, former P&O boss and an honorary RNR Rear Admiral.