Category : Blue Chip

Consolidation and Regulation

It is hard enough to go through a total reworking of the regulatory environment and the establishment of what are, for many, life changing and often career ending qualification requirements. So when such industry changing activities are happening we all naturally look to the regulator for guidance and help.

I honestly feel this is where financial services let itself down. Instead of being a guiding hand and a strong hand on the tiller of change, regulators often react in two negative ways. Firstly they can become impossible to decipher, sending out mixed messages on the way forward and secondly they can become threatening and down right rude.

The first I believe must come from a poor road map and or poor direction from senior management, this however is seldom intentional and more likely due to transformation within the regulator itself, at the same time as it looks to monitor and oversee the new world it now regulates.

The second I believe is a result of us not really grasping what regulation and compliance are truly about!  They are not about scaring and threatening people in the industry, they are about protecting the public through ensuring the offering of better services and products. Regulators often feel threatened themselves and react therefore to the most innocuous enquiries as if they are being humiliated.

Our company recently received a horribly written little note from the FSB, demanding our audited accounts for a certain historical period and threatened virtual professional garroting if it was not done yesterday! It was essential to point out that three individuals had threatened the same over the last six months and all had been supplied with the original courier tracking details from the original submissions, all of which were on time, as well as supplied with yet another set via courier!

Come now Mr Barrow and Anderson, we know your guys have a job to do, but so do we! Let us stop this circle of threat, fear and counter-threat, it serves no purpose and the industry is cheapened by it. We should and can work together to rid our world of bad and unregulated practice. I suggest the FSB establish a broader committee that guides the industry through the next two challenging and exciting years. This committee should have small and medium sized IFA’s and category 2 companies represented, the big guys are running far too much of the FSB show already.

The result of December 31st 2008 and 2009 is consolidation and a far higher entry level to the industry, but rather like the curates egg that is only good in parts!
I ask the FSB to work with us in a spirit of cooperation and to remain receptive to ideas. If we decimate the landscape and stop young people wanting to enter our industry the regulator may find itself back in the apartheid era with just a handful of entities to oversee. Although that may make their lives easier, the general population (clients) will be massively prejudiced by limited choice and poor service.
Let’s work together and establish cooperation, not confrontation as we naturally consolidate.

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Power to the People

Can someone explain to me how we managed to have twice as many periods of load shedding in 2007 and it was all put down to a faulty nut in a nuclear reactor (he has since been fired!) and yet no one mentioned at that time that the continents worst case of business planning was just beginning to show itself?

Remember that lovely advert with Eskom lighting up the world, a dreamy shot from outer space as Eskom our powerhouse, our trusted 1st World Style energy producer not only powered up the whole of SA, but the whole of Africa. Well it seems that they may still be powering the rest of Africa because they have long term contracts and commitments, what does that say about their attitude to us their domestic CLIENTS!

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Bankers Bail Out

Last year was a haze of activity and small victories.  If you think about it, what with global warming, Bird flu, Aids, Everton, Flash floods and airplane engines that fall off, to name but a few, it is a small victory for all of us to simply survive from one year to the next.

Those big clocks at the airports, ticking down to the World Cup 2010, don’t help either. They are somehow sinister and scary. Every time I see them I’ve lost days off my life, it’s like a second coming or something, in 950 days FNB will take over the world! well let’s be honest that’s more likely than Bafana Bafana doing it!

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Back to Square One

A starter for 10 points, no conferring please! What was the origin of the saying, “back to square one”? I will give you a clue: it dates back to 1932 and involves England and South Africa.

We will return to the answer a little later, but immediately let’s think about âback to square one for a while: what does it mean to you, anything? Does it mean to start again, does it mean to give up what you are doing and begin something else or does it just remind you of an old board game? It doesn’t matter that much, but for some it is a place in which you can suddenly find yourself!

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Boring Old Bourses

In the 90’s I wrote an article that appeared in the Weekend Argus each week called Money Talks. It was not meant to be hi brow just a snippet of news from overseas, a nibble of info on the FTSE and tit bits from the Dow. The point is that I once used the term BOURSE when describing an overseas exchange and I remember even then feeling a bit of a pompous prat, especially as the only bourse is really the CAC and lets face it, CAC just about sums up the word BOURSE, it’s so twee and knowing!

I mention this only as one of SA’s strangest TV channel’s, Summit, seems to have become addicted to the word. Once a day Sky News go to Summit TV, for an update on the African Markets. Suddenly an Asian girl with an American accent was speaking from Johannesburg, very cosmopolitan I thought, if not exactly politically correct. She then went on to enter the Guinness Book of Records by using the word BOURSE six times in approximately 45 seconds! I thought I was going to gag on it!

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Take Care

As we continue to build our businesses and constantly review what we are doing and or how we operate, it is often refreshing to pull out old mantras that remind us over and over again of some truisms.

The number one for me, because it strikes to the very heart of the matter, is this.

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So what makes a Professional in 2008, could it be some of the following?

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A Deeper Meaning

Sometimes in life you just feel good about something. You just know in your heart and soul if something will be good, bad or indifferent. It steers us in and out of relationships, it directs us, at times, that hard-to-define “feel good” factor.

The year 2008 has that feel to me and hopefully, without tempting fate, I say it looks like it will be a good year.

It appears to be a good year to discard baggage and things that make me feel uncomfortable – and I am not talking of my clothing straining under the pressure of a Christmas and New Year well eaten!

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Success and Succession

There are many times in our lives when we reach a crossroads and at each instance we have to make decisions, decisions that will govern how the remainder of our lives unfold.

These decisions can in many cases never be questioned, as we will never know what the alternate route would have brought us. Even when a decision brings us success we never know whether another route could have been even more fortuitous.

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Exclusive Inclusiveness

I have never quite understood whether “Poles Apar” related to an electromagnetic or geographical opposite, but we all clearly understand it to be opposite viewpoints on the same subject. Over the last few months I have read several letters written by IFA’s, and talked to others, on a subject that seems to divide many service!

Client servicing means many different things to many financial advisors, but one point is clear as long as we are talking about it. We must, hopefully, be striving to improve it. Although I personally cannot abide the arrogance of anyone who dictates and preaches their own perceived virtues, as if they are the only way, it is interesting to listen to or read those who are so convinced of their divine correctness.

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