Why Mrs May should consider the risks of a referendum on abortion.

If Ireland can have an abortion referendum, why can’t  the North?

Following the result of the referendum on abortion in the Irish Republic, people have been demanding something similar in Northern Ireland. I advise against it. Am I being undemocratic? Far from it! I believe referenda carry great risks and can operate against the interests of democracy. I have written about this issue previously.

Why is an abortion referendum complicated?

There are many views about abortion. Some people think it should not be allowed in any circumstances, as they value the life of the unborn child as much as that of the mother. Others think a woman should have the right to dispose of an unwanted foetus at any time, for any reason. Between these extremes, there are many who would permit abortion on medical grounds or in certain other situations, such as cases involving rape. Then there is the question of time. Should there be a cut-off point, when we recognise the foetus as an unborn child whom we should protect? When?

What are the risks of a vote on abortion?

It is, therefore, impossible to ask a Yes/No question about this, unless you set out one specific proposal for people to vote on. Who is to decide the wording of the question? Once voted on, it will be difficult to amend the terms without another referendum, or the government will be accused of ignoring the will of the people. In normal politics, people negotiate compromises to find acceptable, workable solutions, because things are seldom black and white. Those who consider themselves to have won a referendum are seldom open to giving ground afterwards.

Is there another risk to an abortion referendum?

Those who have lost will have nowhere to go. No scope for further lobbying. What to do? They may feel disengaged from the political process. Sometimes this can lead to violence or illegal activity, if people feel very strongly about something. In the case of Northern Ireland, there will be accusations of interference in the province’s politics by either the Republic or the UK. People have strong views about such interference.

A preacher preaching. Is he for or against abortion?
A preacher preaching. Is he for or against abortion?
If the Republic can do it, why not anyone else?

We have yet to see how things work out in the Republic. As UKIP discovered, the vote is not always the end of the process. Time will tell.


Who is on your side to prevent your business being defrauded?

I want to help you avoid being defrauded

I have written on the subject  of fraud recently, and several times in the past.  Some articles are about ways you can protect your business from fraudulent insurance claims, and others about fraud generally. As I promised, here are some more tips to help you, and again, I am grateful to Barry Zalma for reminding me of some of these points.

Who else will help keep you from being defrauded?

You may think of some obvious candidates:

  • the Police
  • Trading Standards
  • Internal Audit
  • Your external auditors
  • perhaps you can add a few?

However, you could easily overlook an important group of people who could help you: your employees!

 Man with a magnifying glass on the lookout for signs of being defrauded.
A man with a magnifying glass on the lookout for signs of being defrauded.
How can you enlist your employees to protect your business from being defrauded?
  1. Let them know what fraud means, since some people have wrong ideas.  Fraud includes (where money is concerned) all kinds of deceit, false accounting and lying – to clients, regulators, prospects, colleagues and managers.
  2. Show them the cost of fraud to your business and to others. and explain the consequences, which include the threat to the success of the business and thus to their employment.
  3. Make them aware of the potential penalties which the organisation may impose and  those the courts mete out .
  4. Establish a whistleblowing policy and procedures for people to report fraudulent activity whenever they suspect it.
  5. Ensure people know where to get advice on ‘grey areas’ of law, procedures or ethics.
  6. Follow up reports of suspicious activity.
Who else can help you avoid being defrauded?

Apart from employees, you could encourage other stakeholders to cooperate in reporting suspicious activity. These could include:

  • clients
  • suppliers
  • agents
  • brokers
Don’t be alone, but let’s all work to defeat the fraudsters.

I will write again soon about other ways of preventing being defrauded.

How easily could your business be open to fraud?

I don’t like fraud!

I have written before about fraud  in general and fraudulent insurance claims in particular. You may recall that I have also mentioned that Barry Zalma shares my passion about this and there are a lot of tips on a recent blog of his. Some of them are more relevant to big businesses, whist I generally aim my advice at small to medium sized ones, but a lot of the same principles apply. For more on this and some examples of scams and fraudulent insurance claims go to Zalma’s Insurance Fraud Letter.   I am pleased to note that Barry agrees that such controls form part of an overall Risk Management strategy and this is one risk we all need to manage.

A detective with a magnifying glass. Trying to detect fraud?
A detective with a magnifying glass. Trying to detect fraud?
Do control measures cost more than they save?

I have always believed measures against being defrauded were worthwhile, especially as some are not expensive, anyway. Now I have discovered that there is evidence to prove it, as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners has compared the losses incurred by organisations that had control measures with those of organisations that did not. Their data was broken down by categories of control measure and showed that all the measures proved cost effective.

A man with a magnifying glass looking at a laptop. Looking for fraud?
A man with a magnifying glass looking at a laptop. Looking for fraud?
What are the most effective measures against fraud?

The above research identified two measures as the most cost effective :

  1. Surprise audits.
  2. Data monitoring

Together they produce on average a 50% reduction in the cost of fraudulent claims. What are you waiting for? If you don’t have those two controls, introduce them asap or speak to me for advice on implementing them.

I will be writing about this again, giving details of more  measures you could consider.

My new book: Risk and Win! has been published.

Who has published my new book?

My latest book, Risk and Win, is now available, published by Business Expert Publishers of New York. It is a simple guide to managing risks in a small to medium-sized business. The price is $19.95 or about £15 as an e-book and $34.95 for a print copy.

Because the publishers are an American firm, the spelling and grammar are adjusted for the US market, but most British readers will be able to understand it. If there is enough demand, I ‘ll see about producing an English translation.

Where can you get the book?

You can see full details on the publisher’s website, where you can order your copy.

I will usually have a few paper copies on me when I go to business networking meetings, which I intend to do more often, now I have finished writing this.

What other books am I writing?

I will soon finish a historical novel, which I will be publishing under a pseudonym, and I am still working on a sequel to Accounting for Murder, Double Entry, which will be called Accounting for Murder, Old Money.

Now I am a writer, have I given up my RM business?

It’s up to you! I am spending most of my time writing, but whether you get the book or not, you can contact me personally for a risk survey of your business, or just a chat about managing risk. I want to help you manage the risks facing your business.

The cover of Risk and Win!
The cover of Risk and Win!

01925 445215


Risk and Win! A Simple Guide to Managing Risks in Small and Medium-Sized Organizations