You would lap that right up, wouldn’t you? Who wouldn’t?
I’ve written about these types of seminars before in “Learn to trade seminars. What’s the point?”. It’s an age-old business model that plays on people’s desire for independence and freedom from office politics. The problem is that many of these seminars are scams. They aren't that highly thought of, on the respect scale of the financial industry - an industry already well respected amongst the masses - they come in rubbing shoulders with Bernie Madoff.
This brings me to an article I noticed on the BBC Travel site titled “How I Quit My Job to Travel: The Banker”. For rather obvious reasons I clicked it and began to read. Well you can imagine my surprise when it turns out that the article’s content is in fact a blatant advert for day trading poorly disguised as a travel article. Read it for yourself and see.
This particular firm offering these seminars might just be fine and dandy and full of the vodka of financial know how. Going to one of their classes might really help you realize your dreams of Vegas, Veyrons and Vixens. I honestly don’t know, and can't say because I haven’t used their services, but what is suspect is how the BBC has gone about it. They have published, under their own name, an advertisement without making clear that it is in fact an advertisement.
I can only come to two conclusions why the BBC has done this:
- It is a paid for article by the writer
- The BBC has lost all editorial integrity and control
If it is the first, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, the BBC needs to make money too, we all have to put food on the table and put iPads in the hands of our children.
It’s the way the world works.
But one thing is for sure. It should be clearly marked as advertising. What the BBC has done may well be legal, but it doesn’t take a law degree to understand that allowing the use of the BBC brand to advertise financial “education services” that are outside any form of regulatory supervision and not stating clearly that it is advertising is not only misleading but also unethical.
Then of course there is the second choice. The BBC simply has very lax editorial control. Somehow their editors got offered this article and without proper due diligence or checking just put it out there. This would then support a theory of incompetence.
Whatever the reason for publishing such an article it is clear that the BBC has been naughty, very naughty, and if this was an English boarding school and the BBC a pupil, they would be getting their very own dose of BBC: A Big Bottom Caning. And rightly so!
It should be noted that the article remains popular. Nearly two weeks after publishing it is still the second most read article on the BBC Travel website. It was even mentioned by BBC World News! Yes, hang your head in shame BBC World News.
I did try to get an answer from BBC Travel on Twitter, but surprisingly enough they have chosen to ignore my tweets and not reply.
So what do you, dear reader, do with this knowledge? If the venerable BBC is willing to sell its brand to advertise day trading seminars then you can no longer trust their content or their ability to report fairly. When it comes to their content it is now difficult to differentiate the promotional material from the real material. That should be a serious concern for all.