-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Back in the 1950’s, when most women stayed at home while their menfolk went out to work, a favourite trick of life insurance salesmen was to walk into the prospect’s home at dinner time and ask the wife:

“Mrs Smith, have you ever thought what would happen if your husband keeled over and had a heart attack right now?”

Imagine the effect of this question on the poor guy sitting there eating his meat and two veg. It must often have been enough to make him choke on his roast potato there and then – maybe even die on the spot.

Not being in the business of selling life insurance, the European bank regulators were unwilling to take any chances with the client’s cardio-vascular system, so they have restricted themselves to asking the question: