April 8, 2016

Beach Boys bloke Brian Wilson famously installed a sandbox in his living room as an aid to innovation, creativity and relaxation. This idiosyncratic introduction of silica granules into his domestic environment (perhaps intended to reconnect him with the recreational shoreline habitat that inspired the band’s name) foreshadowed the innovative pop genius’ precipitate descent into the realms of the mentally unwell and thence into the eagerly extended arms of sinister celebrity shrink Dr Eugene Landy.

Inspired perhaps by his example, regulatory body the Fanciful Conduct Authority (FCA) have decided to create a “Regulatory Sandbox’ in which insurance eccentrics and “innovators” will be free to play with outlandish and potentially dangerous new insurance products free of the obligation to do things properly, safely, by the book etc.

This relaxed, easy-going permissiveness seems a far cry from the bad old days of former FCA boss Denis Wheatley, who would sooner have shot such innovators on sight than allow them to frolic in an unsupervised area. According to the FCA the Sandbox gives firms somewhere where they can “test innovation without immediately having to meet all the normal regulatory requirements.”

They are also apparently planning to install a ‘Sandbox Umbrella’ presumably to protect those playing beneath it both from the dampening effects of atmospheric precipitation and from harmful solar radiation.

Tracey McMarmot, currently starring in the role of FCA CEO, says she wants to “foster new ways to help firms of all sizes develop novel ideas” and hopes that having a sandbox will “accelerate the development and testing of genuinely novel products.”

Bankstone News feels sure her hopes won’t be in vain. Although, not every sandbox has a happy fate. When Bankstone News was just a snippet, its doting parents installed a sandbox at the end of the garden (a sandpit, as they insisted on calling it, being English and pitifully behind the curve on the whole Transatlantic business-speak piece).

Much as the youthful Bankstone News enjoyed the opportunity for unregulated creative play this novel feature afforded, so too did local cats who took advantage of lax supervision to defecate therein. This eventually prompted the sandbox/pit’s redesignation (subject to the addition of a moulded plastic insert) as a water feature/pond.

This adaptation, alas, also came to an inglorious end, after local hedgehogs, perhaps depressed by humanity’s relentless incursion into the UK’s remaining wild places, began hurling themselves into its semi-stagnant pond-weedy waters in a (usually successful) bid to end it all.

The experiment ended in the former innovation centre’s being paved over. Let’s hope the FCA’s Regulatory Sandbox has a happier outcome.

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