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Risk management for all!

Project House has returned to square one. The surveyor told us the house we wanted to buy was nice, but maybe, possibly, likely cracking in two. It’s taken all this time for buyer and seller to agree (that we can’t agree) and at this point, I’m relieved not to be buying that house.

When I saw the surveyor’s report, which contained an apparently rare recommendation not to buy, I didn’t initially think it was a death sentence. Then we spoke with the tenants who were currently living in it and they said, ‘oh yes, it does feel like the whole house is on a tilt, and doors keep opening and closing on their own’. That felt much more damning than the surveyor’s risk assessments of what may or may not be going on under the foundations.

Ever since I learned about the concept of risk management in investment banks, I’ve wondered about why companies in other industries don’t have risk management departments. Everyone deals with risk. Even the same concepts of market risk, credit risk, liquidity risk, operational risk (and so on…) apply to all businesses, but somehow only because banks deal with large amounts of money, is it worth having dedicated people to assess it. Doubtful.

I judged this to be a low-risk activity, but my mother saw the picture and rated it very high-risk due to the danger – nay, likelihood – of ticks and used needles lurking in the grass.

In the personal realm, as well, risk management is very relevant. Take houses. To buy one, you probably have to ‘risk-accept’ all sorts of things – will a sinkhole open up in my garden, will they build a tower block next door, is my neighbour an arsehole, will the boiler break immediately as we move in, will the house crack in two. It would be nice if risk management practices were commonplace outside large financial institutions – then maybe when you went to view houses, the estate agent would hand you a standardised risk report of all the things that might be an issue with it. As it is, risk just hovers in the back of everyone’s minds – everyone knows a house purchase is risky but you’re supposed to not think about it.

I’ve heard concerning reports about the impending doom of Evernote, so I’ve installed Notion and intend to try it out. The bar is high – I’ve been using Evernote since 2012 and it’s my main repository of digital documents and notes for both home and work.

Here’s a bugbear: people who say ‘look’ a lot when they’re holding forth on a topic. Especially prevalent on podcasts. From what I can tell, when you hear someone say ‘look, it’s a simple matter of…’ or ‘look, there are only two…’ you’re supposed to think ‘here’s someone who really knows what they’re talking about’. And as we know, that’s really rare, so easily half of the people littering their monologues with ‘look’ are just pretending.


  1. […] had a bit of a bittersweet realisation over the summer with the difficulty in finding a house to buy. I think London and I have grown apart. There are no hard feelings, it’s just that […]

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