Things money can’t buy


Life’s coming to a point where things that happen and decisions I seem so much more meaningful and closer than ever to self-actualisation. And as this happens I realise that among the things that you cannot buy, the most important one is time. There’s only so much of it you get in one lifetime, in one place, at one age, in one phase and there’s anything you can do it (what a liberating feeling that is!), and even a more liberating feeling is choosing to spend that time on immeasurable, meaningful things in life, which might only make sense to you and now.

But as long as you have done justice to every second you have spent, bringing you happiness, building you as a person, adding value to your life – you’ll never look back and wished you had done it differently.

I think the realisations and moments like these are about to increase anyway as I move home, when I would spend time doing things which I can never get back in time. Seeing my nephews grow up, being with parents, celebrating milestones with people I share history with and hopefully making some history of my own which is worth remembering. After a really long time I am feeling excited about what’s ahead, as opposed to sceptical and anxious. Need to hold on to this feeling real tight!

Why Recruit by Referrals?


Having graduated only a year ago and graduating soon yet again (MSc.), I am surrounded by countless number of jobseekers (including myself) and I hear about the frustration of having to ‘network’. And seeing others with more valuable ‘networks’ progress faster in their careers as compared to the ones with less valuable networks. Working with a recruitment company showed me why this happens to begin with.

 

First and foremost, the truth that many people forget is that recruiters WANT to recruit and find the best person and what keeps them doing that and makes job hunting for new graduates so hard is that the skill misfits are endemic and so many people don’t effectively communicate what they have to offer. So, naturally it is a very costly matter for the organisations to find the right people by advertising, paying commissions, interviewing, carrying out assessment centres etc. Referrals on the other hand do not need to be advertised and this makes the process not only cost effective, but quick.

 

Money is not the only matter. They say.. Recruit the character and teach the skill. And everyone would agree, judging character can be very difficult through a set of questions or activities. However, when you get referrals from people you trust, you can probably trust them for their opinion about the referred individual too. By no means do I think it is the best way of recruiting, but it has started to make sense to me why it happens so much.

 

In my personal opinion the skill and talent are just as important and networking as people want to have likable people on their teams, who would not only work efficiently but also get along with them. But networking surely helps you achieve things you are capable of earlier and easier. 

Regulatory Split: Too costly a transition?


Cry over the hefty fines issued by FCA of over £470M in 2013 alone, one after another since mid last year really doesn’t surprise. It has been happening for a while now and despite the recovery in growth and economic indicators, the fear of penalties haunts the existence of most financial institutions. Now, here’s the perspective not many seem to be taking much notice of, the fines are if anything justified – extreme for sure, but that’s the kind of attitude that’s required for a truly deterrent impact to take effect.

Second is the idea of dynamic v static effects. All colossal changes seem impossible and painful in its initial stages, there is letting go of old habits, learning new things and getting used to them. And a change so radical is ought to be painful in the beginning, but it will only lead to a system more reliable, sustainable and greater (reasonable) profitability. This profitability doesn’t only emerge from the reliable operations, but also the investors trust in the performance of these financial institutions post-regulatory enforcement. Especially, as UK seems to be the most concerned one at this point about rising of regulatory standards. This although worries at the same time! Some foreign banks have already started to face trouble adjusting to the new UK regulatory standards, especially as their home bases including the SEC have still not put the matter under such great scrutiny. The regulatory standards for sure are a painful, yet fruitful move for a more sustainable future; however the regulatory discrepancies in a global financial space could be a problem. I think the transition might be longer than expected!

Why merge, despite the divorce rates?


What are the things we look for when thinking of a successful relationship? Compatibility, appeal, attitudes, willingness to make it work…

This blog is not about relationships, it is about mergers and acquisitions and why we see so many of them despite the fact that we all know not many of them work out well in the end. Even though M & As and relationships are two different things, the dynamics are really not that different, and neither are the factors that lead to their success and failure.

About 80% of the global foreign direct investment is made in the form of M & As and out of these 90% fail, which is much higher than the divorce rates of 40% – 50%, so why is it that facebook acquired whatsapp for $19BN, HP acquired Autonomy, Chase merged with JPM and many many more?

Understanding why would become very easy if we thought of business relations under the same light as the human relations. People all over the world are getting married because if it does work out, the life could be pretty damn fulfilling and similar is the case with businesses. If the M & As do work out there is countless benefits for businesses involved. I am not going to go into the benefits and drivers for these M & As because that’s beyond the scope or relevance for this blog.

There are things you can do to make relationships work and that’s exactly how it works with businesses. There is the potential that should you get everything right, there could be a successful future, so the success really is in your control (to some extent). Successful businesses don’t invest in M & As until they are ready financially and structurally to take on another business, and the ones that do, don’t usually end up triumphant in the end, which is very similar to being ready for a relationship – you can’t complete someone else before you complete yourself.

The way you deal with your new partner firms is also key – How much autonomy to give? How much stakes does each partner have? How much price premium do you invest in the partnership? Another factor which determines the success of M & As activity is the synergies i.e. compatibility between the two firms – what can the other partner bring into the business to add value? And how could you exploit these synergies effectively?

And in the end even if it doesn’t work out, businesses are not complete losers as they have to some extent, bridged the learning curve. So when they merge or acquire next, they would know better and do better. All these dynamics are not very different from human relationships, which is why it helps to think about businesses in an organic and ‘humane’ way, because at the end of the day businesses do exist for the people in it and for those associated with it. However, there are fundamental discrepancies in what human beings and business want and do. People want to maximize utility/ happiness and businesses wish to maximize profits, but understanding how each one of them go about doing it, does not vary very much… This is something I have learnt from economics (even though it doesn’t always work, it is an amazing stand point to start thinking about things).

World at Night: The Triad


earthlights2_dmsp_bigThis picture was taken in 2000 by a NASA satellite. A very unique and amazing picture it is, but there is something about the picture, beyond the serenity. It describes the idea of economic prosperity in very simple terms. If you haven’t already noticed the obvious, go back and spot the regions with most ‘light’. Its implications could be understood very well if you took the word ‘enlighten’ literally. It is indeed the ‘triad’ of world economic leaders which are most ‘enlightened’ in the picture and otherwise in terms of their GDP and technological development. The ‘triad’, which means three, of the world economic leaders are America, Europe and some regions of Asia (Japan/ China). These are the major trade hotspots of the world, which means the ‘prosperity’ in the world is distributed as clusters, the extent of which is beautifully and simply shown in this picture. The map below is just an illustration of world GDPs per capita, which show trends of the sort, not very different from the picture taken by satellite.

Image

Cows explain World Economies


ImageSOCIALISM

You have 2 cows. You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM
You have 2 cows. The State takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATISM
You have 2 cows. The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away…

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM
You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank,  then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows. The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows. No balance sheet provided with the release. The public then buys your bull.

ANDERSEN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You shred them.

FRENCH CORPORATION
You have two cows. You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

JAPANESE CORPORATION
You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called ‘Cowkimon’ and market it worldwide.

GERMAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

ITALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows, but you don’t know where they are. You decide to have lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 2 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

SWISS CORPORATION
You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you. You charge the owners for storing them.

CHINESE CORPORATION
You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity. You arrest the newsman who reported the real situation.

BRITISH CORPORATION
You have two cows. Both are mad.

IRAQI CORPORATION
Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your country. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of Democracy….

AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION
You have two cows. Business seems pretty good. You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

Source: A Tale of Two Cows

Financial Markets: Broken down to their very core


Earlier this week, one of my friends shared a thought provoking video clip, which I find very worth sharing. It breaks down the whole financial system and complex functioning of the financial securities, multipliers, economic reforms etc to something that everyone is more than capable of understanding. In essence, it is a simple, basic and amusing illustration of how the financial markets function.

It takes me back to how hundreds of years ago coinage for money was replaced with cheques against the gold coins, which later became notes and now, only a depiction of value created by the Central Banks that print currency against, nothing! However, the system really is very firm and well established, yet complex – so I don’t disregard each of its contributions (liquidity, pace, security,..) to the businesses and money management in general; it does however lay at the heart of Capitalist agendas and the system.

The very first banks (or something what could be vaguely defined as banks) was created when gold coins were used as money and it wasn’t very unusual to be looted when traveling for trade, which exposed the traders to risk and insecurity. Some people however, saw an opportunity to open ‘bank’ that would issue notes against the gold coins, which could be redeemed back for gold, allowing people to travel safe. Years of such practice meant that businessmen would just exchange the ‘notes’ against gold rather than actually redeeming that gold. The basic mechanics of financial markets can be seen to have been born in this setting, when at that point an extra charge of gold/ money was required to redeem the gold that had been deposited earlier, which is exactly the definition of interest i.e. price of money. What we have now as currency is far from what the gold or the ‘notes’ meant, but surely it represents a buying power- one that decreases every second as the currency inflates in an economy.

(Despite, the video having some strong views/ language, I think the information is rather interesting and useful!)