Your shout: MiFID, offshoring and spreadsheets

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Computer Weekly readers' give their views

Keep MiFID free from Westminster busybodies
"Clock is ticking as Brussels delivers its second-stage MiFID draft." So stated your article on security (Computer Weekly, 14 February). Is that an alarm clock that counts the time to more cost and confusion?

What concerns me and should concern anyone potentially on the receiving end is the question of whether MiFID should be in the form of a regulation or a directive. There is a very significant difference.

To state that a directive allows a greater degree of discretion in its incorporation into national law is its fatal flaw. A directive is a gold-plater's dream. Bureaucrats, MPs, lobbyists - in fact any busybody - can fiddle around with and expand the transposition of a directive from a few A4 sheets in French to a fully indexed, cross-referenced legal tome in English.

So long as the original directive is embedded, national jurisdictions can add anything else they can think of and the UK has a long and destructive record of doing just that.

We are among the EU's top gold-platers. Ask fishermen, farmers, industry: our transposition of directives into UK law has added untold costs and restrictions, and rendered some activities practically impossible. Consider health and safety: no one dares use a simple ladder now to change a bulb or clean the windows!

By contrast, a regulation must go directly into each state's law untouched exactly as legislated and published by the European Commission. For the busybody administration at Westminster a regulation takes away the opportunity to gold-plate beneath the EU facade.

So please let us have the certainty of a regulation on MiFID rather than the uncertainty, chaos, time wasting and compliance costs of a directive. Don't give discretion to those who will use it ignorantly to shackle industry with red tape and political interference. Rather look to examples in other less-interfering jurisdictions of Europe that stick to the original text on a few A4 sheets.

Greville Warwick, MCS

Attention! Steer clear of information icebergs
I read with interest the article "Use the MiFID effect to your advantage"(Computer Weekly, 21 February), but I fear it was far too diplomatic to raise anxiety levels much beyond "not another regulation?".

The degree of blissful ignorance that many financial institutions currently exercise with regard to the levels of integration and transparency between the front and back office demanded by MiFID is alarming. It conjures up images of Enterprise Titanic sailing full steam into a night filled with icebergs of information for which most organisations still disregard the need to map, much less avoid.

As these organisations are actually creating the icebergs in the first place, in the form of both structured and unstructured content, it is not hard to envisage more than a few overnight disasters over the horizon.

All of an organisation's assets will need to be discoverable, regardless of whether they exist as text or voice, and will be demanded in court, driven by customers who feel aggrieved that they were sold something less than perfect up to five years previously!

Ian Black. Aungate

The highs and lows of the offshoring saga
The idea that offshoring has removed the low-end jobs, but has enabled us to create more high-end jobs (Letters, Computer Weekly, 28 February) is a little near-sighted.

Many of those in the high-end jobs gained experience in the low-end jobs - and an understanding of the low-end jobs is always valuable.

So while in the short term offshoring has enabled us to concentrate on high-end jobs, in the longer term many of these jobs will go to where the fundamental skills are: offshore.

Charles Woodward

Control spreadsheets to minimise risk of errors
Was no one else alarmed that more than 70% of financial services firms rely on spreadsheets for compliance monitoring? ("Warning on spreadsheet reliance", Computer Weekly, 7 February). Especially when other research has shown that up to 90% of spreadsheets are thought to be unreliable.

And yet, whatever the potential for serious and frequent errors, spreadsheets are here to stay. With more than 400 million users of Microsoft Office, which includes Excel, the use of spreadsheets within the enterprise has become even more entrenched and mission critical.

We must focus our efforts on applying the right controls to spreadsheets, by implementing secure user access, tracking changes and retention management. In this way, compliance and operational risk managers can feel more confident in creating clear audit trails.

Karry Kleeman, Mobius Management Systems

Waking up to the value of software investment
It is heartening to see that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has finally woken up to the huge contribution made by software investment towards the economic wellbeing of the UK ("Software investment to raise UK GDP", Computer Weekly, 14 February).

The revision in the way the office compiles its figures makes it abundantly clear that UK plc is a world leader in IT investment while software production contributes significantly to gross domestic product, with an expected 1% rise in future years.

Those in the know will not be surprised by the news that the previous estimate for software developed within companies was five times less than it should have been. But the problems experienced by the ONS in recording software investment reflect the challenges that face most boards on a daily basis.

It is often difficult to identify what proportion of IT spend is truly value added investment and what is simply business as usual running costs. The biggest grey area is maintenance and upgrade costs, which may be used to extend business advantage but only if spent wisely.

Richard Hall, Avanade

Keep those leftover bits, they'll come in useful...
I was most interested to read the letter from Peter Monk on the topic of electronic "green boxes" for recycling information (Computer Weekly, 21 February).

I don't have the complete answer, but in my days as a hardware engineer, I used to collect all the parity bits for re-use when I ran diagnostics on a faulty memory stack, so I am sure it must be possible.

Mike Faithfull, Corporate continuity manager, Luton Borough Council

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