06 July 2007

Tenor Singing A Different Tune

With reference to my last post about the use of the words "tenor" and "tenure" in an MAS/ABS pamphlet about home loans, I have received the following reply from MAS:

Dear Mr Koo

I refer to your email of 4 July 2007 to Stomp copied to MAS. We would like to clarify that we did not receive your earlier email.

2 We appreciate your interest in the ABS-MoneySENSE home loan guide. We used the term "loan tenor" in the guide as it is the more widely accepted term in the financial industry to describe the duration of a loan and other debt obligation. For instance, three financial dictionaries make reference to the term "tenor" instead of "tenure". The definition of "tenor" from the Barron's Dictionary of Banking Terms (third edition) is appended for your reference.


(a) shorthand reference for maturity on a note or financial instrument.

(b) designates a time when a draft is payable: on sight (when presented), a given number of days after presentment, or a given number of days after the date of the draft.

(c) terms set for payment of a draft, i.e. when delivered (a sight draft) or at a future date (a time draft).

Tenure: This word is not found in the Barron's Dictionary of Banking Terms (third edition)."

3 We hope this has clarified your concerns. Thank you for your feedback.

Yours sincerely,

[Name removed to protect the innocent.]

Consumer Issues Division, MAS

[Telephone number removed to prevent MAD people from calling.]

So there you have it - the final verdict is that I was wrong and MAS was right after all. I apologise unreservedly to MAS for my ignorance and for making a joke out of the use of the word "tenor" in the pamphlet. I am very grateful to MAS for pointing out my mistake. I am so sorry for the error.

But hey, wait a minute... I googled "loan tenor" and found 809 hits on the web. However, when I googled "loan tenure", I found 18,200 hits instead, almost 22.5 times that of the former! Alright, "loan tenor" may be the "more widely accepted term in the financial industry" but it certainly doesn't appear to be so in the IT industry. Maybe those 18,200 webpages are written by lay persons and not by people in the banking industry.

Oh well, the professionals always have their own views of things. They also like to go by the book or shall I say "3 books" in this case, i.e. 3 financial dictionaries. (Ah, so that's how they got their 3 "tenors", haha.)

And they couldn't find the word "tenure" in the Barron's Dictionary Of Banking Terms? Hmm... maybe they should just junk it and look in the web instead?


pinto said...

Barrons (5th ed) says this about 'tenure':

1. Nature of an occupant's ownership rights; indication of whether one is an owner or a tenant.

2. Length of time one has been employed by a certain company, with important implications in cases of layoffs.

3. Academic privilege granted to associate and full professors, allowing freedom of speech (academic freedom) and conveying implications of continued employment except in extraordinary circumstances.

Lam Chun See said...

Victor, next time you will be singing all the way to the bank.

Victor said...

Pinto - Tks. And MAS is still using the outdated 3rd edition (probably hardcopy)? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Victor said...

Chun See - How to? Did not strike last night's $5.8 million Toto jackpot leh.

Ivan Chew said...

Dude, you can't use Google as the only benchmark lah. :)

tigerfish said...

Hahaha...even if it was their mistake, you think they will say so meh? Anyway, if they wanted to target the guide to the layman like me, then they don't have to use such a "PROfessional" word, just use words that laymen can understand such as "tenure"....But of course, if their target customers were professionals, it's another story.

Victor said...

Ivan Chew - Don't use Google then use what ah? :P

Victor said...

Tigerfish - My sentiments exactly. Aren't most people who take up a housing loan laymen?

alphabet soup said...

Oh, so banks have their own dictionaries now. Hmmm, I suppose that's all about talking more gobblydegook so that the customers will give up trying to figure out the small print and just sigh and sign on the dotted line.

Ms Soup

Victor said...

Alphabet Soup - True. Currently some people already don't understand what is meant by "loan tenure". If the banks use the term "loan tenor" more people would be confused. Some may even think that the banks are talking about "lone tenor" as in Placido Domingo performing in a solo concert, haha.

stay-at-home mum said...

When they dont like to reply, they always say they did not receive the e-mail. Same case for me. When I wrote to my son's teacher via e-mail because I couldnt get her on the phone, regarding a biting incident in class (my son got bitten by his calssmate!!), I did not get a reply. When I forwarded the same message to her again requesting for a reply asap, or I was going to speak to the principal about it, then I got a reply to say she did not receive my earlier email which I think was bull sh*t coz I had bcc'd myself and the mail came thru'. Guess these people will always find excuses to cover their own butts!

Victor said...

Stay-at-home Mum - I am sure that there are people who claim that they did not receive a email as an excuse for not replying it, as you have described.

However given the vagaries of the Internet, there is indeed a small chance that an email may not be delivered to the intended recipient. Some possible causes are network congestion; non-responding mail servers; and/or anti-spam software installed at the recipient's system which automatically blocks suspect emails, sometimes wrongly.

I am giving MAS the benefit of the doubt because it's true that I didn't receive an auto-acknowledgement from their email system for my first email but I did receive one for my second one.

Shilpa said...

Oh no, do I really want to join the civil service?? :) What if they put a knife to my throat to issue letters like these and sign off using my own name?!?! Oh no!!! :)

Victor said...

Great that you are back, Shilpa! :)

Haha, the CS may still be bureaucratic but it is not so mean lah. So no worries, k?

Anonymous said...

Hi i like to say that i think it's tenure too. Tenor only happened because someone screwed up and it got propagated.

Victor said...

Anonymous, glad to find another supporter. :-)