In our family 2 inch gaffer tape is known as 100mph tape. The name is a throwback to the days when my dad used to rally. Anyone who has rallied will know things break and fall off, and rallying isn’t a sport with a pit with a team of fully equipped mechanics around every muddy turn or conveniently positioned in every forest, so much of the time you fix it on the fly and carry on. Most of the bits that had fallen off or were moving when they shouldn’t have been were fixed with this 2 inch gaffer tape that could hold anything together up to 100mph.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s when my dad and his friends were barrelling around the British countryside exceeding 100 mph was rare, but you could guarantee that those short term moments exceeding the limit would be the time when the bonnet you’ve just taped down decides to spring open again or the front bumper taped you taped down tries to wriggle free. The tape means you can race hard, almost to the limits, but also acted as a reminder that once you cross the finish line it was time to fix the issue properly.

Small issues continue to hinder the carrier longer than they should

The liberal use of tape is not unique to rallying, I have relied on similar methods in all of my chosen sports. I can’t imagine the metres of tape I used in the decades of rugby, boxing, triathlon and skiing and I'm definitely not alone. Look at any sporting event from a fun run, to weekend football through to top flight sports and there is always someone involved with tape, a neoprene support or both, but its use is subtly different. Whilst sports tape tends to have a finite life, the duration of the game, race, or competition, it does not have a simple rule that drives the wearer to seek a long term fix, so the small issues continue to hinder the carrier longer than they should.

This quirk of human behaviour is explained by some research that coined the term the region beta paradox. The original study by Daniel Gilbert considered a commuter who had a habit of walking to meetings less than a mile away but cycling to destinations further than a mile, since the bike is faster than walking, a region was noticed where some distant locations were reached faster than closer locations.

The inefficiency driven by this behaviour is observable in many other areas, one example being injuries. Serious injuries are dealt with efficiently whereas lesser injuries are ignored (or taped over) and as a result the serious injury heals faster than the lesser injury which is endured, affecting performance and potentially creating additional biomechanical issues along the way - more sports tape please!!

Returning to rally, 50-60yrs on and whilst the top speed of today's world rally cars has increased it has moved relatively modestly to around 120 mph, and while that alone is enough to defeat the ‘safe speed’ of 100mph tape there are hidden risks that come from the phenomenal acceleration, braking and handling, all of which exhibit such significant multidirectional forces on the car that the true ‘safe speed’ of tape if applied to a modern car would be much lower than advertised.

Financial services is a high speed contact sport and as a result operating models are heavily reliant on the tape of short term tech fixes and workarounds, but it’s rare that these solutions are marked with a rule such as a safe speed limit and hence they lack a necessity to fix properly and over time what was only ever intended to be a temporary fix ends up being an integral part of the technology architecture. As a result of not seeing the small problems as worthy of a proper fix many firms are trapped in the inefficiency of region beta, and never reaching their full potential.

The longer the fix is in place the worse the performance, and of even greater concern is the increase in operational risks. Each year the pace of financial services increases, and so does the strength of the cross-directional forces that each firm is contending with.

The operational resilience regime gives some insight into the way regulators will begin to monitor the health of financial services firms, and surely it wont stop here. Consumer Duty adds multi-directional forces through its four outcomes, products and services, price and value, consumer understanding and consumer support, and new evolutions of this regulation will undoubtedly follow.

It's time for financial services to invest in being race ready and drive fast out of region beta to greater long term success

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