Exposed to scrutiny

As an author myself, desperate to understand the vicissitudes of the book-buying public, I devour any articles on the publishing industry.  In the Economist recently there was a piece about the growing demand for children’s books in China, now that middle-class parents have money to spare, and one observation in particular has stayed with me: “Few books depict siblings, aunts, uncles or cousins – relationships little understood by the young, thanks to the one-child policy.”  Isn’t that interesting, and rather sad?  But it made me think about other relationships that might be little understood.

For instance, PEPs.  We talk about politically “exposed” persons, and that is rather a value judgement – after all, being exposed is rarely a good thing.  And yet for many people, political associations are not exposures, but rather strengths to be sought and nourished.  So when we ask a client if they are “politically exposed”, perhaps they say no when they should (according to our legal definition) say yes – because in their minds they are not exposed, but rather, say, connected.  In other areas of due diligence, we are much more clear and objective about what we are asking.  We talk about HNWIs – high net worth individuals.  We could call them RACs (rich as Croesus) or RIIs (rolling in it), but instead we opt for an unambiguous statement of their financial standing.

As I have to keep reminding people in training, PEP status is not a synonym for corrupt.  But that word “exposed” does have negative connotations, so perhaps I can understand the confusion.  It would be trickier to say, I grant you, but perhaps PCP would be more accurate: politically connected person.  As for what constitutes a “close associate”, well, that’s for another day.

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