SIFI — Sci-Fi? See-Fee? Siffy?


When some industry professionals see the term SIFI, most know that it refers to the Dodd-Frank-created concept of “systemically important financial institution.”

What they don’t seem to know if how to pronounce the doggone term.

I’ve heard people refer to it as SI-FI, as in Hi-Fi, the once common moniker for high fidelity, as in high fidelity sound. They use the long “i” to pronounce the “i” part of the term.

Others have come to the same conclusion, that SIFI should be pronounced in a way that sounds like hi-fi. However, their reason comes straight from the world of science fiction. After all, many aficionados of science fiction often shorten up the term to SIFI or Sci-Fi.

(That’s a bit of a stumper since in recent times, a lot of hipsters consider themselves to be devotees of Syfy, not Sci-Fi. The Syfy word gets a lot of play on television in some areas; maybe that’s why? Sigh.)

Then there are the folks who read the letter “i” as a long “e.”  To those enlightened souls, the term SIFI should be pronounced like see-fee.

Gotta wonder about that one. In the financial world, that might be taken as a reference to people who see fees as the preferred form of compensation. Then again, it might be taken as a pejorative term, to be used for people who only see fees when a new customer walks in the door.

Then there are the professionals in Washington and various urban areas throughout the country. They have taken to pronouncing the term SIFI as siffy, in a way that rhymes with iffy. They use a short “i.” Where that came from, or where it’s going, is not clear to me.

My guess is that the wordsmiths somewhere decided that SIFI, as in hi-fi, syfy or Sci-fi, is too other-worldly sounding. Not the kind of message the policy wonks want to assign to this highly sensitive part of Dodd-Frank.

As for the see-fee pronunciation, the wordsmiths might have never even thought of that one. It doesn’t sound businesslike, after all. I mean, can you imagine a bunch of officials sitting around a conference table saying, “As the see-fee regulations state….”

But siffy as in iffy? Well, that has a softness about it.  But it sounds kind of, well, iffy, as in questionable. No doubt some folks think SIFI is questionable, but that’s not the point. The point is, are any of these monikers that we want to hang onto the “systemically important financial institution” concept?

Here’s a better question: How would you pronounce the term SIFI, or do you have suggestions for other (short) ways to reference this concept? This is a blog, so go ahead and weigh in.


Linda Koco, MBA, is a contributing editor to InsuranceNewsNet, specializing in life insurance, annuities and income planning. Connect with Linda →

  • sunforester

    SIFI is short for “government takeover.” SIFI means “government insurer.” SIFI means that the nationalization of our life insurance industry is in full swing. SIFI means “no SEC antitrust oversight or intervention.” SIFI means that crony insurers get a better financial deal than real insurers so that the crony SIFIs get to corner the market and wipe out the real insurers. SIFI means that crony insurers can do anything they want because they are fully backed by the depth of taxpayers’ pockets.

    SIFI means communism. SIFI is the end of the free market for life insurance. SIFI is how the Democrats take over our country, one industry at a time. SIFI is the death of our freedom and the free market.

    And you liberal left wing journalists don’t give a damn about it.

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