Dog Years: transition from Watch Puppy to Dogs of War for asIC & APRA

It’s 2014 and bankers are watching the Chair of ASIC address the National Press Club explaining the role of the “Corporate Watch Dog”. Bankers are creative when they are bored - this isn’t their only similarity to small children - and it didn’t take long to come up with a new nick name for the regulator - Watch Puppy.

I’m going to suggest that captured in that nickname is both the lack of respect many in the industry had (and continue to have) for ASIC and the timeframe that might be expected for changes to take place. The Hayne Royal Commission has made a clear call for a regulator with bark and bite. Not the out of control bite of a dangerous dog, but the highly trained military dogs of war. There was nothing cute about the dogs used for psychological warfare first used against the animal loving Egyptians by the Achaemenid Empire in 525BC (never doubt the trivia value of an Arts degree with a major in Ancient History). Dogs of war continued to be carefully selected and trained for their temperament to perform functions as diverse as tracking, searching, alerting and attacking.

The service of dogs in war has been recognised with the awarding of the Dickin Medal. Perhaps ASIC’s staff could take some lessons from the training of war dogs as they make the transition from watch puppy to attack dog - we need them to have more than a bark if there is to be a change in financial services. One part of corporate culture that many academics agree on is the importance of symbols. Let the project names of the Enforcement Team at ASIC take their guidance from the list of Dickin Medal recipients as a constant reminder of both gallantry and service.

Ask yourself how the 2016 ASIC capability implementation plan looks through the metaphor of transition from watch puppy to dog of war. Compare it with the training section (starts on page 33) of the Training for War Dogs published in 1962. Anyone from the defence forces feel like some fun at ASIC? I hear they are looking for a few good men…and women. The Treasury Laws Amendment (Enhancing ASIC’s Capabilities) Bill 2018 will make it easier to hire both the puppies and the trainers ASIC needs from 1 July 2019. A capability review for APRA was announced in February 2019. Putting aside the logical concern that should come from two of the three person panel being ex-banking executives without HR qualifications in what capabilities are, how they are different from dynamic capabilities and the old fashioned competencies, let’s see what these puppy trainers can do. You have until 10 April to make your submission. Woof Woof.