When "green Dave" Cameron urged us to hug a hoodie he may not have had in mind the Financial Services Authority, nor the memorably named stockbroker Hoodless Brennan. Yet the dreaded regulator seems to have been uncharacteristically under-standing in its dealings with Hoodless.
It was back in December, 2003, that an FSA snooper stumbled on some tapes of Hoodless sales people using American-style "boiler room" patter to shift some shares in a thing called Knowledge Technology Solutions. That was in June and July that year.
We have all heard these scary sales scripts. But they come from overseas, for the very good reason that the perpetrators live in terror of what they think the FSA will do to anyone it catches trying them out here.
One Hoodless client who expressed interest in 50,000 KTS shares - this was a penny stock - was harried into taking 100,000. Another asked for time to think because he could not concentrate on both his work as a hospital doctor and an investment decision at the same time. He was told don't concentrate, just say OK.
There was also some chat about a KTS contract that was not supposed to be public knowledge. You cannot tell from the FSA's coy statement yesterday why this fell short of insider dealing. But it did.
All this came to light in December, 2003, yet it was only yesterday that the FSA drew a line under it with a £90,000 fine. That seems an ample penalty for a crime with only 13 victims, who prospered greatly from it - KTS
shares more than doubled in the following six months. Understandably, nobody complained.
The mystery is why it took nearly two-and-a-half years to clear it up. Stranger still, a new chief executive who took charge at Hoodless along the way, Nigel Smith, had spent the previous seven years working, yes, for the FSA. Something rum about this? n n n Here comes the law of unintended consequences, yet a gain about pensions. Research by Deloitte covering has been examining the consequences of the Govern-ment's proposed National Pensions Savings Scheme.
This will be the vehicle for the pension contributions to be required from every employee (who does not insist on opting out) and every employer, too. The idea is that both parties will pitch in, say, five per cent of the individual's pay.
Some employers will offer more, no doubt. But what Deloitte has established is that most now paying typically 12-15 per cent towards what is left of their final salary schemes expect to save a fair bit under the new arrangement. This will not just be a matter of new employees faring worse than the old - but as people change jobs they will migrate to worse pensions.
The Department of Work and Pensions disputes this on the grounds that employers will still use pensions as an attraction to recruit and retain staff. They did once. But for now most are more interested in containing the cost of pensions.
Nowadays, bonuses are the rage - and bonuses are rarely pensionable.