Category : Financial Services

As time goes by

By the time you read this you may already have read about the dismissal of John Thain from Bank of America (who took over Thain’s firm Merrill Lynch) and how he spent approximately R15,000.000 on having his office renovated, bless him. Yet another Master of the Universe brought down to size by the world’s biggest economic reality check since WWII. By the time you read this Israel will be out of Gaza, having no doubt utilized that three week vacuum period prior to a new presidency to make Palestinians punch drunk and or just homeless. By the time you read this the ANC will have no doubt destroyed the credibility of our current President to prepare the way for another, a man in whom I really struggle to find any endearing features. By the time you read this line again you may have lost interest and turned the page, but I hope not. My point is simply that at certain times in our lives things change very quickly and time can seemingly fly by!

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Self Hate Speak

Browsing through a local music store I came to the shelf that we all avoid being seen at, the bargain specials! You know the stuff, Max Bygraves greatest Hit (Singular) Abba Songs from a Swedish Sauna, or the more recent one thousand shocking Afrikaner pop star compilations that confound belief that any of it was produced after the 1980’s!

This is not Dutchman music, however, as that is hate speech to an Afrikaner and the music is also not from Holland so drop any Dutchman tag altogether ok, I insist! No it’s probably now Dutch African, intimating the original country of the ancestors as well as the place of current residence, why not, you get Italian Americans don’y you?

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The future is not yet written!

Talking with a friend and a fellow CEO of an investment house last week and we got onto the subject of children, teenagers in particular. It was all light hearted stuff but he, being a good fifteen years older than me and with me facing a future containing ultimately four teenagers, had me in stitches. He finished off by telling me that he once had a car sticker that read.

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Progressive Collapse

There is a term in the construction industry that is called, Progressive Collapse. It’s not widely known but was brought back to my attention by the wisest man I know, my Dad!

In the UK, in the late 60’s, a building called Ronan Point in the South of London suffered “Progressive Collapse, and before everyone’s eyes sank down to the ground taking many people with it.

The horrific 9/11 attacks caused two incidents of progressive collapse, namely towers one and two of the World Trade Centre.

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Fuld’s Gold

A fool and his money are easily parted, actually that should be the kids favourite line for Dad, especially every Saturday when its pocket money dole out time, I swear those four scare me at times!

But for now forget fools and their money, or even fools gold, it is now Fulds Gold. Yes, Mr Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers fame, the CEO who earned between $250 and $500 million over the last decade gets to keep the lot, even as the mess he and his ilk created is being shoveled into black bin liners labeled and handed to staff with their pink slips!

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WARWICK IS ON MAJOR EXPANSION DRIVE

WARWICK PRIVATE WEALTH with offices now in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth the group has grown with great conviction and quality over the last 12 months. in 2009 the group is looking at several other locations for satellite offices.

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Warwick National Organic & Acquisition Growth continues

WARWICK Private Wealth, the national Private Banking Services Company has been expanding both organically and by acquisition during 2008.

Last week, WARWICK announced that it had concluded its fifth acquisition of the year and is in negotiation with a further five private client companies. With offices in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban the concluded and proposed acquisitions are spread across the country.

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Dead Cat Bounce

If you were to drop a cat from a twenty storey building it would actually bounce as it hit the deck, despite using up all of its remaining lives on the way down; hence the stock exchange expression, “a dead cat bounce”.

So the markets fell and bounced as the incredibly predictable and yet uninspiring politico’s in the USA come to the rescue with their voters tax money. But what a week that was! The world’s most overconfident pack of wolves lie dead and bleeding in the forest clearing and those few who survived have been caged and turned into tamed zoo exhibits!

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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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Caveat Emptor

Since the 1980’s there has been a dramatic change in the regulation of companies involved in the promotion and administration, of financially related products. Wave after wave of legislation has been introduced to ensure that the companies, as well as their employees, are properly educated and trained. Compliance with these acts and regulation is an onerous part of being allowed the privilege to promote and sell to the general public.

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