Category : Insider Chronicles

What the Scottish referendum tells us about South Africa

So in a narrow revolt against the William Wallace of the 21st century, Mr Alex Salmond, the Scots have “given up their freedom”, or at least continue under Westminster’s rule.

Other than a brief moment, when the “ruling establishment of Westminster” panicked following a poll showing the YES tartan hordes ahead, a moment that even saw Mr Dave Cameron call his own party the “effing Tories,” was there ever any real doubt? Yes there was and, at times the head of the NO vote, Alistair Darling, seriously looked like the YES votes’ secret weapon, but even that stiff twit could not get the Scots to jump ship and go all native!

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The Wonders of Life

The wonder of life is that we are often surprised by those we least expect to be surprised by and disappointed by those that we help or assist the most.

The lesson is surely that some people are naturally appreciative, even of the minutest help, and others would not thank you if you carried them on your back throughout their entire life.

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Doomsday radio pundits are wrong – JSE set for more gains

When one of my young teenage sons asks if we are heading for World War 3, due to the unexplained number of plane crashes and the half-hearted ‘muscle flexing of a small Russian man in Ukraine, I know that the ’24 Hour’ News industry has possibly over played its hand.

The comforting thing is that the markets are acting far more maturely, which contrasts with the PE ratio doom merchants. When a market is turning from bull to bear it starts to show signs of schizophrenia and every piece of bad news will drive it down, little will make it rise and there is a collective sense of impending doom. That is a mind-set much displayed by a number of South African radio pundits at the moment, but it does not seem to have purchase where it matters most, namely within the US stock exchanges.

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Damned if you do or don’t

The worlds markets are at their highest levels in history, or at least they are as I write this column. So without repeating the usual rhetoric of the radio, tv and newspaper doom merchants what does this mean to us, the people who advise the general population?

If you are sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for me to solve the most burning question of the last six months, namely ‘should we go into the markets at these high levels or stay out?’ then please do one of two things, (a) prepare to be disappointed or (b) make a cup of tea and prepare to hear just another man’s opinion.

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Debar, or not to debar, that is the question?

When is a contract not a contract, when does acting in a fit and proper manner not apply, and when does acting in a fit and proper manner still lead to debarment?

I will allow you to mull over that thought for a while and then put you out of your misery, or possibly cause you some more!

We are all working in the same industry “financial services”, but one would have to be a fool, or at the very best naïve, to think that following FAIS and the huge changes that have occurred in South African financial markets we are now all operating on a level playing field. Life is never “fair” or “equitable”, we can just hope to make things better and we must admit that we have now come quite a distance over a relatively short period of time.

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Client Care, Are You Being Served

It is they say twenty times harder to win a new client than it is to keep an existing client, I believe that 100%.

So why is it that people continue to make the same mistakes and why do many find it hard to deliver on promises even when they are being paid to deliver a service? There is in South Africa a sad truth that many people who offer a service think they are the one’s doing their “Customers and Clients” a favour, how totally misguided can they be, do they seriously think that they are the only provider available?

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2013 The Compliance of Life

Whenever we enter a New Year there are always discussions about a new or changed way of living, resolutions are made and more often than not broken, diets, smoking, drinking, exercise all become brief hot topics as we choose to cease or increase any one of these hollow intents. Then gradually we settle down, we start writing and referring to the correct year, we stop having to say happy New Year (in my opinion it should be illegal to say “Happy New Year” after the 10th January!).

Life returns to normal and we find that we are pretty much the same people living the same life as we lived in the previous month, back in that other country now known as “last year”. This year, however, I have made one financial services commitment that will not change and by making it now and backing it up with the required funding, I know it will be a reality, it’s not exactly a “hot” or “sexy” topic, but it is crucial!

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A recent meeting at Warwick was held to plan the next three years of the KiDS Foundation and how we can ensure that we arrive at its 21st anniversary fighting fit. The object is to be stronger better organised than ever before, which, if you know my board of trustees, is no mean feat as they are simply exceptional.

Anyway, I digress, at the end of that meeting one of the trustees was looking a little down in the mouth so I enquired what was wrong? She told me that she was a little depressed with “All the news!” Further enquiry elicited the fact that she was concerned for her children having to live in such a terrible world, a world with so many awful things happening not just on a daily but almost hourly basis!

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Age is Relative

Groucho Marx told us that, “A man is only as old as the woman he feels”, well in that case I am a lucky fifty year old with a smashing lady in her forties, although having now mentioned her decade I may be feeling very lonely for a while!

Age is relative, or should I say we all have an “aged relative”. As each day ticks by, weeks and months slip by, years become a moment and strange time warp phenomenon occur. What I mean is this, how come as you approach the end of every decade, especially after forty, the odd mind trick occurs. In that last year of a decade, when we are telling ourselves that we don’t care about reaching that “new” milestone, odd almost “twilight zone” events occur. We see the pictures of sporting stars from when we ourselves were young and virile and these gods look, to be honest, knackered and we get a fright. TV and movie stars release a new production and we scream to our partners “look at such and such, he looks ancient”, then we remember that we haven’t seen them for a decade or even two and it’s nothing other than just life!

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Deceptively Clever

As gold hit new highs I was reminded of a lunch back in the mid 90’s, with a stock broker friend. How things have changed, we walked to the restaurant from the JSE, in central Johannesburg and it was a big day as from recollection gold had just gone through the $350 dollars an ounce mark, the sun shone and all seemed right with the world!

At $1900 an ounce gold still does not really thrill me, but then as a dull Lancastrian pommy I have never been part of the love affair that many South African’s share with that beautiful unique metal. At $2500 an ounce I do know a number of guys who will cash in their wedding rings and at $3000 an ounce carjacking in parts of Cape Town will change. Yes, the criminals will be carrying pliers not guns, there is at least an ounce in a gold front tooth!

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