Limitations are restrictions and restraints; obstacles and obstructions; barriers and blocks – all negative connotations. The negativity is unfortunate because limitations can prove very positive.

It is encouraging to tell children that the world is their oyster and that anything is possible in their career development. However, it is much more practical to lay out the limitations along the way – achieving higher grades in education; being a better social communicator; displaying moral standards; etc. Regulations

When undertaking any project it’s shrewd to set the scope of the work. Otherwise there could be overruns on costs and resources. Limiting the scope is good. Constraints and controls might seem like the last thing you’d want for a successful project, but they’re actually very positive attributes. Restrictions remove contrarian, varying choices and help focus attention on the core goals.

Creative constraints can be even more rewarding. The challenge is to write a short story with only 6 words. The very limitation drives creativity. Without the word restriction the outcome could not be achieved; For sale, baby shoes, never worn!Not quite what I was planning! – No future, no past not lost! – Waiting for whom? Waiting for Godot!

Financial regulation is designed to act as a brake and control mechanism on financial activities – particularly those affecting consumers. Not everybody views such regulations and restrictions as good; but in keeping with the examples above the limitations imposed by financial regulation can produce positive outcomes. Cold-calling and harassment are banned. Sales jargon must be written in plain English. Costs and charges must be exposed. Flash warnings must accompany every piece of sales prose. These impositions all seem positive for consumers – yet how come financial activities continue to attract such bad press?

The EU has produced an enormous set of limitations that will come into effect on 03 January 2018 under the colloquial title of MiFID II. The rules are designed to obstruct and curtail financial services activities insofar as they affect consumer protections. There are 97 regulations (why didn’t they make it an even 100? – Ed).

Even though this is a welcome development it does create a lot of cross-border incongruities. For example, US regulations are nowhere near as restrictive. Could that provide creative opportunities for US banks? The EU regulations and the formal opinions on their planned implementation are extremely complex. While the intended purpose is to educate and instruct consumers in a transparent manner it is likely that the level of detail provided will simply serve to overwhelm.

So will these limitations produce positive consumer outcomes? MMPI believes that consumers will remain vulnerable to distance marketing and complex financial jargon. As always consumers will tend to be swayed by swanky brochures and boozy headline rates. Most consumers will require attentive handholding to ensure that a particular product is suitable and appropriate to their needs.

MMPI believes that such care and attention can only be delivered in face-to-face meetings. Alas none of the new EU restrictions extend to ensuring that consumers are met face-to-face. Pity!

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