I occassionally get invited along to previews of films and last night saw “Unstoppable“. Its an “inspired by real events” story about a train that becomes out of control, picking up speed and loaded with toxic cargo. Insert Denzel Washington and Chris Pine (Captain Kirk from the new Star Trek film) with direction by Tony Scott (who seems to have thing for trains) and a dose of railroad bravado and you have a classic format tense action disaster drama. I enjoyed the film but couldn’t help feeling that the in fact this train was very stoppable, had those in charge applied as much effort to thought as their efforts to braking.
The story begins with a catalogue of errors that are so obvious, that an audience is left in no doubt that this will come back to haunt. This is partly about not having a series of checklists, not taking short-cuts and thinking more about the stock price than people. We all make mistakes, and the worst are those that get repeated. So it is vital that we have processes in place that significantly reduce the possibility of error.
This is something that will of course ring true within financial services – how do the brakes get applied? when is your portfolio headed for disaster and how will you know when you are far too close to possible wipe out? This is something that we help clients with – flagging problems, maintaining controls and providing realistic benchmarks. Don’t let your financial mistakes be the most obvious ones.
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