International News in Brief: CEO of public health “prescribes” financial advisers

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Doctors should be able to “prescribe” financial adviser appointments if they believed their patient’s health problems were linked to concerns about money, says the CEO of Public Health England.
Duncan Selbie, the head of Britain’s public health watchdog said stress about debt and money is seriously damaging people’s wellbeing, but the solution could be tackled in GP surgeries.
Business Day reported that addressing stressful issues through early intervention, in much the same way as smokers or people with drinking problems would be dealt with, could avoid the need for expensive healthcare down the track.
However the chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs Maureen Baker opposed the idea and said patients could feel forced into seeking financial advice when they just wanted to address a health issue.
“We would also be worried about financial representatives operating from GP surgeries if they were for profit. The relationship between patient and doctor is one of trust and confidentiality and this could be damaged if patients felt that GPs were forcing other services on them.”
Not only has online currency Bitcoin attracted the attention of law enforcement and financial regulators, but it has now made it onto the US military radar as a potential terrorist threat.
An unclassified memo from the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO) raised concerns about facilitating the transfer of virtual currencies, International Business Times reported.
“The introduction of virtual currency will likely shape threat finance by increasing the opaqueness, transactional velocity, and overall efficiencies of terrorist attacks,” it stated.
Part of the worry is the anonymity of Bitcoin: while every transaction is public, the people behind them are kept anonymous.
Bitcoin has already caused much controversy after being involved in a variety of highly profile cases.
This included being used as the currency in a digital black-market that sold everything from drugs to assassins, the chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation being arrested on charges of money laundering, and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of the currency “disappearing” from Mt Gox, one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges.
Also on the CTTSO’s hit-list of terrorism research topics were Android, Motorola, social media and virtual reality.
Banks, fund managers and financial services firms are adopting an ancient Buddhist form of stress relief that embraces meditation.
“Mindfulness” is being adopted by many financiers in London city, including KPMG, Goldman Sachs, the Bank of England, and Unilever, the Financial Times reported. The CFA Institute for investment professionals is also considering launching a similar meditation programme.
Sally Boyle, head of human capital management for Emea at Goldman Sachs, said: “In years to come we’ll be talking about mindfulness as we talk about exercise now.”
Kok-Song Ng, the chairman of global investments at GIC which is Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, said meditation cultivates the discipline of “selfless attention” and allows people to view a bigger picture, the report said.
The adoption of such a practice by those who potentially would traditionally dismiss it comes amid calls for capitalism to confront greed, income inequality, and materialism.
A number of recent deaths among finance workers have also raised questions about the stress of the job and the way employees are treated, the Times reported.