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British financial institutions are spending wildly different amounts on ensuring their IT systems are compliant with new business regulations.

A survey by Enterprise Ireland of 35 leading institutions found spending varied between different institutions. High Street Banks are typically spending half their compliance budget on technology and expect this to go up 10 per cent next year. But investment banks and insurance providers are spending just 10 per cent of compliance budgets on technology.

Judi Blackmur, senior adviser for software and services at Enterprise Ireland, told The Register why the figures were so varied. She said: "Compliance with regulations and good business practise are at a converging point. Projects done for business reasons, like a workflow system, bring compliance benefits too. Training, for instance, has a big role in compliance but might have a budget of its own rather than being included in direct compliance spending."

She believes a representative figure would be 15 per cent of overall budget spending: regulations are changing so quickly at the moment that many organisations are "running to keep up", she said. But good technology can provide real business benefits as well as ensuring regulations are followed.

The survey reflects comments by BT chairman Sir Christopher Bland in today's FT that the telco has spent £10m to make sure it complies with changes to US corporate law brought in by Sarbanes-Oxley legislation. He described the legislation, brought in to stop a repeat of the Enron and WorldCom scandals, as "a great burden". He said the telco would have removed its shares from US exchanges if it could. ®

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