Saturday, December 29, 2007

Is the M&A Boom Over?

“That’s the question McKinsey poses in Dec 27th McKinsey Quarterly.”

M&As tend to boom when interest rates are low (it’s easier to borrow money) and when companies are undervalued (they can be split up and resold at a profit). But the wave of European deals in 2006 noted by Ian Scott of Lehman Brothers “seem to be more about industry consolidation and the political desire to create national champions in sectors such as energy” - “if companies are getting together for reasons other than valuation or financial consideration, I suppose that isn’t quite such a good sign,” so whilst buyouts continued to dominate the headlines on a weekly basis back in 2006, and following James Rossiter September 2007 Times Online comment ... Restructuring has been named as the "the hottest game in town" according to ... the M&A boom is over, 2008 is shaping up to be a tough year.

Deal making in 2007: Is the M&A boom over?

* A wrap-up of 2007 M&A activity finds that the volume of mergers and acquisitions reached new heights during the year but then fell precipitously after the subprime-lending crisis made credit tighter. Nonetheless, suggestions that the M&A boom has met its demise may be premature.

* Most of the decline in M&A since August was concentrated in private-equity deals; corporate acquisitions continued apace. In a market characterized by tighter credit and a heightened appreciation of risk, this M&A boom will continue only if the more fundamental forces behind it, such as the surging activity of acquirers in emerging markets and increasing cross-border activity, continue as well.

* Furthermore, deal makers largely continued to exert greater discipline in M&A, as evidenced by metrics for the value that deals created and by the smaller number of acquirers overpaying for acquisitions.

McKinsey Exhibits:
*1: Slow-down in M&A over the last few months of 2007 concentrated largely in the private-equity sector.
*2: M&A deals continued to generate strong value in 2007.
*3: The acquirers’ share of the overall value created by deals has improved somewhat.
*4: The levels of value created by deals in different sectors and geographies continue to diverge significantly.

Read More......

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Common dilemma company grows, leadership roles change

“Symptoms of a personal/professional misalignment may include”

* Frustration.
* Lack of energy.
* Not enjoying going to work.
* Feeling as though you're leading two lives.
* Not feeling lucky.

When a CXO's individual goals are out of whack with corporate objectives, it undermines your passion, which is an important source of persistence and creativity.
What's more, a lack of passion on your part affects the synergy and energy of your staff. When employees see that their leaders aren't committed, they back off on performance.

Goal alignment revolves around:

  • Mission. Why are you doing what you're doing?

  • Vision. Where are you headed? What specific milestones are you aiming for? (This is especially important for partners to agree on.)

  • Values. What's most important to you? What makes you feel satisfied and happy?

If you're not touching the parts of the business that you love, it can be a big problem and cause a disconnect

Balancing Act
Aligning personal and corporate goals fuels growth, leadership and creativity.

Guideposts for growth
Goal alignment benefits CEOs in a variety of ways.
  • If you're clear on goals and values, you're not going to be sidetracked
  • If employees embrace your corporate goals and values, they'll be proud to be there every day, they'll respect the work that they're doing — and they'll respect each other.

That creates synergy for the organization; the whole group can move together and push to new levels.

Guiding Behaviour
Values are the meat — they're where your goals come from

Introspection is an important part of goal alignment. Take the time to examine your level of commitment.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

UK bosses undervalue IT

Type your summary here

“ UK business leaders value soft skills far higher than IT prowess, according to a Microsoft survey.”

Soft skills such as communication, flexibility, and initiative were seen as key attributes by the 500 UK business chiefs surveyed, while IT expertise was only seen as the seventh most important skill. Team working and interpersonal skills topped the poll as the most important traits needed to be successful in the workplace.

The perception of IT skills look set to change. When asked what skills would be important in a decade, the respondents put IT in second position behind team working and interpersonal skills.

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said IT has tranformed everyone into an information worker. "In almost every job now, people use software and work with information to enable their organisation to operate more effectively," he said. "That's true for everyone from the retail store worker who uses a handheld scanner to track inventory to the CEO who uses business intelligence software to analyse critical market trends."

Source: CBR

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Hard Skills CEO vs Soft Skills CEO

“When the going gets tough...”

A study published by the University of Chicago GSB suggests that tougher is better when it comes to making it as a CEO. A survey of more than 300 US private equity firm CEOs shows that speedy, aggressive, persistent CEO candidates are more likely to be hired than their good-at-listening, open-to-criticism, team-playing counterparts.This is bad, says the Chartered Management Institute. Its Quality of Working Life report, which surveyed 1,511 managers, found the most common British management styles are bureaucratic (40 per cent), reactive (37 per cent) and authoritarian (30 per cent). This tendency towards "overbearing and controlling" team leaders, says the CMI, is stifling British workplaces, resulting in higher levels of absence and lower levels of productivity.

Weighing up ... Hard Skills CEO . Soft Skills CEO - what's your thoughts !

Steven Kaplan new study suggests that hard-nosed personal virtues such as persistence and efficiency count for more than "softer" strengths like teamwork or flexibility.

"We found that 'hard' skills, which are all about getting things done, were paramount," says lead author Steven Kaplan, a professor of finance and entrepreneurship. "Soft skills centering on teamwork weren't as pivotal. That was a bit of a surprise to us."

Five CEO traits that correlate most closely with business success at buyout companies -- and five that score lowest, according to University of Chicago researchers.

Traits that matter...
• Persistence
• Attention to detail
• Efficiency
• Analytical skills
• Setting high standards

...and not so much
• Strong oral communication
• Teamwork
• Flexibility/adaptability
• Enthusiasm
• Listening skills

Mark Gallogly, a co-founder of Centerbridge Partners, a New York private-equity firm, says the academics' findings match many of his beliefs about what's important in a CEO. He puts a premium on bosses who can hire well, excel at efficiency and execution, and can be aggressive but respectful. By contrast, public-company CEOs may need more soft skills to manage relations with wide shareholder bases and other diverse constituencies.

Both Prof. Kaplan and ghSmart executives caution against dismissing the low-scoring traits entirely. On enthusiasm, for example, the study found that ultra-enthusiastic managers didn't fare meaningfully better than ones who were just moderately enthusiastic. But some level of enthusiasm is bound to be of value, says Randall Street, a ghSmart principal -- and most finalists in a CEO search will exhibit enthusiasm. The same would apply to other soft traits, such as listening skills or treating people with respect.

Source: Times Online, ghSmartInc. WSJ

Read More......

Friday, December 14, 2007

Six Sigma achieves extraordinary ROI

“Making the Business Case for Six Sigma Deployment”

You may have read about and seen the benefits of Six Sigma but are unsure how to approach your senior leadership about the opportunity because they do not have a concise package of information to convey.

Here is a series of tried and tested steps to gain management buy-in on the benefits of Six Sigma.

The Importance of Leadership Buy-in

Without leadership buy-in, there is little hope for Six Sigma adoption. A company's executives must believe and support Six Sigma's potential with dollars, words and actions just like any other corporate objective or goal. Executives are looking for a return on investment (ROI), risk mitigation and competitive advantage. Therefore, to convince them of the value Six Sigma will bring to the organization, it is important to present the benefits as a business case. Follow these 8 steps to deploy an effective Six Sigma programme.

The major steps to developing and presenting the business case are:

1. Identify and evaluate your audience.
2. Research and summarize successful launches at other organizations
with similar functions; include the ROI and a sample project.
3. Document critical success factors.
4. Define deployment requirements.
5. Define a pilot project.
6. Calculate and display the potential financial savings range and ROI
including "soft" elements such as corporate image and competitive advantage.
7. Present and sell Six Sigma to the executives.
8. Get ready for deployment!

Defining Six Sigma ...
Six Sigma is a strategic, top management driven transformation of an organization that focuses on profitably fulfilling customer needs using highly trained employees who use data in a disciplined and methodical scientific approach to continuous improvements in competitiveness, processes, and products through effective resource alignment.

The essential components of Six Sigma:
* Is driven by top management.
* Focuses on profitable customer fulfillment.
* Requires everyone to be highly trained.
* Is data driven, not based on beliefs or conjecture.
* Requires disciplined and methodical (i.e., scientific) problem solving approaches.
* Fosters continuous process and product improvement through resource alignment.

Read More......

Thursday, December 13, 2007

More Banking Jobs cut

“Investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort has announced that it will be the latest financial institution to cut jobs due to the credit crunch.”

The German bank made more job cuts yesterday, with over 200 positions in jeopardy in coming weeks.

Most of the staff affected were in London, where 60 members of the credit team will be made redundant, according to the Telegraph. Another 150 workers are expected to go and although staff fear 350 cuts will be made, sources close to the bank told the newspaper that it would not be as many.

Mark Richardson and Neil Walker, senior credit bankers at Dresdner Kleinwort, left the bank last month after parent Allianz reported millions of dollars in writedowns.
Dresdner's chief executive, Stefan Jentzsch, warned at the time that a high number of redundancies were on the cards.

This news comes after UBS announced it was cutting 1,500 jobs, Bear Stearns is losing 65 bankers and rumours abound that Merrill Lynch is planning mass redundancies.

Dresdner itself let around 125 workers go this time last year after year-end reviews.

Britain's Centre for Economics and Business Research predicted in October that 6,500 fewer bankers will be working in the City of London in 2008.

Read More......

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Banking Trends to watch in 2008

FX-Week headlined Dec 3, "Plain vanilla is no longer flavour of the month" ... ”

Lori Courtney of the Sasqua Group commented

"Banks are increasingly diversifying their businesses away from the plainer instruments in effort to make more money."

The emerging markets is in hot demand (specialist value is moving towards (Russia, Turkey and the Middle East) ...

Another shift will be e-commerce sales and trading, Banks are focusing on e-solutions - Banks are building up their e-commerce operations with sales of these products moving from middle office to front office functions.

Deutsche Bank
Stefan Sutter in Computing (Oct 2007) stated that "The biggest thing at the moment is the impact of the internet. Online banking in the retail sector has shot up by 200 per cent in four years and we have seen similar growth in the securities and commodities markets."

Other Trends to watch in 2008...

Industrialising Processes - quality improvement (Lean Six Sigma) eg. looking at what car manufacturers have done and trying to learn from them about how they standardise their platforms and shrink their margins.

Straight Through Processing (STP) - (back-end integration) with the removal of the manual processing

Read More......

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

2008 can be your Best Year Ever!

“If 2007 was nothing to write home about, then 2008 is just going to get better”

You'll be reaching for your pen to make note of what presents you need to buy love ones and friends. Yes, its that time again, when we take stock of all what's happened and begin to reassess all those things accomplished and question why on earth we bought that hideous piece of furniture that's now banished to the loft; or that really fashionable outfit that looked great on the celebrity and now sits at the back of the wardrobe buffering the shoes and the other "must wear when I get a chance" items.

2008 can be a much welcomed turning point to:

* achieve more than you could imagine,
* starting point to make the impact you really want in your world of work and life,
* take control of your life, rather than living on auto-pilot

Its never to late to begin a forward-thinking plan of action, and renew your choices

Read More......

Monday, December 10, 2007

Always Deliver Honest Feedback

“For a leader, the 'soft' option is never an option”

... ignoring a problem and hoping it will go away will just makes things worse. Direct, candid feedback is essential; people deserve such honesty and are likely to thrive as a result.

How best to manage your people

1. Being candid and giving people honest feedback is always the right thing to do, as through this you are being loyal to both the individual concerned and to the company.

2. When delivering honest feedback it is important to be supportive and constructively critical.

3. When you’re having a conversation with an individual who is experiencing difficulties your message must be clear, because at the end of the day no one should be under any misunderstanding as to what was said, what is required from both sides, and what will happen if either side does not deliver on its objectives.

4. Don't ever think that a problem will just go away on its own: it won't. Leaving the issue to stagnate will just make it worse and much harder to deal with.

Ideas for Action

Prepare thoroughly for any performance review; this includes a checklist for everything you’ll want to discuss beforehand.

Remind the individual of the company values, which they were probably given upon joining the company. Give them another set to take away with them, and explain how their behavior is out of kilter with this and the performance of the rest of the team. Also explain how their actions are affecting the rest of the team’s performance.

In order to ensure that there is no misunderstanding about what was discussed, have the meeting’s notes typed up and confidentially circulated to all present. This gives a clear benchmark of your expectancy of the individual’s behavior going forward.

Put time aside in your own diary every few months to evaluate your team's individual performances. By keeping a regular eye on their activities and conduct you may be able to spot potential problems before they have time to manifest themselves.

Questions You Need to Ask Yourself

Is there someone you should be having a frank conversation with, but are procrastinating in doing so?

How do you strike the right balance between being constructive and being critical in this kind of situation?

Can you think of an instance in which you left it too long to give one of your direct reports some honest feedback? What did you learn from the experience?

Read More......

Friday, December 07, 2007

Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership

“When you put all the pieces together, a new picture emerges for why women don’t make it into the C-suite. It’s not the glass ceiling, but the sum of many obstacles along the way.”

Alice H. Eagly & Linda L. Carli in their book "Through the Labyrinth" identified that Women occupy 40% of all managerial positions in the United States. Where only 6% of the Fortune 500's top executives are female, and just 2% of those firms have women CEOs. "We've long blamed such numbers on the "glass ceiling," notion that women successfully climb the corporate hierarchy until they're blocked just below the summit. But the problem stems from discrimination operating at all ranks, not just the top,"

To move more women into the corporate executive suite, one must attack all barriers to advancement simultaneously. Such as: "Prepare women for line management with demanding assignments. Use objective criteria to measure performance. And give working mothers additional time to prove themselves worthy of promotion."

They explain the need for Metaphors since they matter because they are part of the storytelling that can compel change ... Eagly & Carli goes on to redefine a better metaphor for what confronts women in their professional endeavors naming it "The Labyrinth". Because of its image with a long and varied history in ancient Greece, India, Nepal, native North and South America, medieval Europe, and elsewhere. As a contemporary symbol, it conveys the idea of a complex journey toward a goal worth striving for.

Passage through a labyrinth is not simple or direct, but requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead. It is this meaning that they convey in "Through the Labyrinth".

Women who aspire to top leadership, routes exist but are full of twists and turns, both unexpected and expected. Because all labyrinths have a viable route to the center, it is understood that goals are attainable. The metaphor acknowledges obstacles but is not ultimately discouraging.

Times have changed, however, and the glass ceiling metaphor is now more wrong than right. For one thing, it describes an absolute barrier at a specific high level in organizations. The fact that there have been female chief executives, university presidents, state governors, and presidents of nations gives the lie to that charge. At the same time, the metaphor implies that women and men have equal access to entry- and midlevel positions. They do not.

The image of a transparent obstruction also suggests that women are being misled about their opportunities, because the impediment is not easy for them to see from a distance. But some impediments are not subtle. Worst of all, by depicting a single, unvarying obstacle, the glass ceiling fails to incorporate the complexity and variety of challenges that women can face in their leadership journeys. In truth, women are not turned away only as they reach the penultimate stage of a distinguished career. They disappear in various numbers at many points leading up to that stage.

Eagly & Carli explains that tackling the obstacles to women's progress, will increase a firm's competitive prowess. "If we can understand the various barriers that make up this labyrinth, and how some women find their way around them, we can work more effectively to improve the situation, and understand the obstructions that women run up against?"

They recommend these strategies for increasing the number of women in top positions:

Understand the Career Barriers Women Encounter
Extensive academic and government research studies identify these obstacles:

* Prejudice: Men are promoted more quickly than women with equivalent qualifications, even in traditionally female settings such as nursing and education.

* Resistance to women's leadership: People view successful female managers as more deceitful, pushy, selfish, and abrasive than successful male managers.

* Leadership style issues: Many female leaders struggle to reconcile qualities people prefer in women (compassion for others) with qualities people think leaders need to succeed (assertion and control).

* Family demands: Women are still the ones who interrupt their careers to handle work/family trade-offs. Overloaded, they lack time to engage in the social networking essential to advancement.

Intervene on Multiple Fronts

Because of the interconnectedness of obstacles women face, companies that want more women leaders need to apply a variety of tactics simultaneously:

* Evaluate and reward women's productivity by objective results, not by "number of hours at work."

* Make performance-evaluation criteria explicit, and design evaluation processes to limit the influence of evaluators' biases.

* Instead of relying on informal social networks and referrals to fill positions, use open-recruitment tools such as advertising and employment agencies.

* Avoid having a sole female member on any team. Outnumbered, women tend to be ignored by men.

* Encourage well-placed, widely esteemed individuals to mentor women.

* Ensure a critical mass of women in executive positions to head off problems that come with tokenism. Women's identities as women will become less salient to colleagues than their individual competencies.

* Give women demanding developmental job experiences to train them for leadership positions.

* Establish family-friendly HR practices (including flextime, job sharing, and telecommuting). You'll help women stay in their jobs while rearing children, allow them to build social capital, and enable them eventually to compete for higher positions. Encourage men to participate in family-friendly benefits, too (for example, by providing paternity leave). When only women participate, their careers suffer because companies expect them to be off the job while exercising those options.

* Give employees with significant parental responsibilities more time to show they're qualified for promotion. Parents may need a year or two more than childless professionals.

* Establish alumni programs for women who need to step away from the workforce. Then tap their expertise to show that returning is possible. Consulting giant Booz Allen, for example, sees its alumni as a source of subcontractors.

Purchase Full Harvard Business Review Article

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Can you get by on 4 hours of sleep

“Some research suggests that while seven to eight hours a night is healthy, under five hours or more than eight is unhealthy, and linked to disorders such as heart disease, depression, diabetes and high blood pressure.”

For 264 hours, Randy Gardner did not go to sleep. He felt tired, but each time the urge to rest his head on a pillow came upon him, he played basketball and, after 11 days and nights in January 1964, he broke the world record for sleeplessness. He thanked his supporters, held a press conference and promptly passed out.

The only time it can rest is during sleep The dominant theory is that sleep is a time for the brain to store memory. The idea is that during sleep the brain, in effect, goes offline to file the events of the day. Another theory is that the brain is a complex organ that needs the downtime provided by sleep to recover from the stresses of waking hours. “While we are awake, the higher centres of the brain are working flat out,” The question is what would happen if you were to change your sleep pattern from 7-8 hours to 4?

If you sleep for:

4 HOURS Your immune system becomes compromised. Researchers at the University of Chicago exposed sleep-deprived students – four hours a night for six nights – to flu vaccine, their immune systems produced only half the normal number of antibodies. Stress levels rose, raising heart rates and blood pressure.

5 HOURS Your risk of diabetes increases. Research at Boston University School of Medicine suggests that those who have less than five hours a night were 2.5 times more likely to develop diabetes compared with those having seven to eight. You also increase the risk of being overweight. According to research at Bristol University, the rise in obesity may be partly because of the reduced amount of time we spend asleep. People who sleep for five hours were found to have 15 per cent more ghrelin, a hormone that increases feelings of hunger, than those who slept for eight hours. They were also found to have 15 per cent less leptin, a hormone that suppresses appetite.

6 HOURS Watch out for high blood pressure. A study reported in Hypertension suggests that those who sleep less than six hours a night had more than double the risk of high blood pressure.

And if you've been awake for:

10 HOURS Levels of the stress hormone cortisol begin to rise. There may also be changes in blood pressure.

12 HOURS The likelihood of having a car accident more than doubles. Heart rate begins to slow.

17-28 HOURS Speed in mental tasks slows to the equivalent of someone who has drunk the drink-drive legal limit of alcohol.

24 HOURS Risk-taking behaviour increases. Verbal fluency declines.

48 HOURS Effectiveness of immune system declines.

53 HOURS Ability to make moral judgments declines.

72 HOURS Speed and accuracy in computer tests drop to 30 per cent of normal.

85 HOURS Brain activity declines significantly.

11 DAYS Longest documented period of voluntary sleeplessness is 264 hours. No long-term harmful effects found.

Sources: US Federal Highways Commission; University of New South Wales; University of California, San Diego; North Carolina University; Walter Reed Army Institute of Research; Johns Hopkins University

Some famous people who claimed they can function on 4 hours or less:

1. Jay Leno – four hours
"He subsists on four hours' sleep per night. Out of fifty-two weeks, he gets
four weeks off, during which time he is miserable. "I hate those weeks off," he
tells me. "To me, a week's vacation just means you're now a week behind."

2. Madonna – four hours
"Madonna has revealed she only grabs four hours' sleep a night because she
constantly worries about everything that is going on her life."

3. Florence Nightingale – four hours
"Florence Nightingale only slept four hours a night"

4. Anton Ballard – four hours
"Ballard keeps pushing himself to get better. He averages around four hours of
sleep per night, and works about 12 hours each day between his meat counter and
his studio."

5. Michelangelo – four hours
"Both aboriginal peoples and highly creative people (such as Thomas Edison and
Michelangelo) rarely sleep for more than four hours at a time."

6. Napoleon Bonaparte – four hours
"Napoleon Bonaparte learned to live with the fact that he was only existing on
three or four hours sleep a night and got on with his grand schemes."

7. Bill Clinton – five to six hours
"President Clinton grabs 5-6 hours"

8. Winston Churchill – six hours
"It was claimed he only spent 6 hours in bed every night. However, he wrote
that one needs to take a complete nap every afternoon, to get fully undressed
and really go to bed. No "halfway measures". He claimed the reward was to "get
two days in one - well, at least one and a half, I'm sure." He claimed this nap
was absolutely neccessary to cope with his responsibilities during the war. His
naps were 1.5 to 2 hours long, for a total of about 8 hours a day!"

9. Nikola Tesla – two hours
"He is said, by some of his followers, to only have slept 2 hours a day. He was
definitely a night owl. But his staff has told of him taking many naps during
the day. And it seems he may have been narcoleptic, and able to sleep with his
eyes open."

10. Leonardo Da Vinci – 15 mins every four hours (ie. 1.5 hours)
" It was said that he would sleep just 15 minutes of every four hours."

11. Margaret Thatcher – four hours
"Margaret Thatcher, the former prime minister, was famous for getting by on
only four hours a night."

12. Martha Stewart – four hours
"“There’s not enough time in the day,” complains the woman who says she needs
no more than four hours’ sleep a night."

13. Thomas Edison – four hours
"Thomas Edison slept 3-4 hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time"

Read More......

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Great ‘mindshare’ between client and bank,”

“Viswas Raghavan transforms JP Morgan European division equity-linked prowess into a broader platform ...”

I stumbled across this article the other day. An interview with JPMorgan’s Viswas Raghavan Head of Equity International Capital Markets. When I knew Viswas back in the early years 1993-6 at Lehman Brothers where we both worked in Investment Banking ... a mathematical genius, a very intelligent person who continues to shape future leaders of the investment banking world.

At the end of the 1990s, the state of JPMorgan’s European equity capital markets (ECM) business looked in jeopardy. Drained by a sometimes painful merger with Chase Manhattan and the inevitable staff exits, its presence in the market was negligible.

It is a very different picture now. In 2006, JPMorgan’s share of the Europe, Middle East and Africa equity issuance market jumped by 30%, and in the league tables it rose from sixth to joint first in terms of the number of eligible deals completed, and to second by dollar volume. In the year to date, it is first for global equity and equity-linked business, and second in Europe.

The foundations of JPMorgan’s resurgence in ECM have been built on the strength of JPMorgan’s equity-linked platform. Over the past several years it has become an enviable franchise, to the point where JPMorgan’s equity profit and loss was more or less accounted for by equity-linked transactions.

Viswas Raghavan, who joined JPMorgan as head of equity-linked operations in 2000 from Lehman Brothers and who is now head of international equity capital markets, has played an instrumental role in the division’s revival and the translation of equity-linked strength into broader ECM business.

Being ‘branded’ as an equity-linked house was not a slight, Mr Raghavan says, but an ideal platform on which to build an initial public offering (IPO) business. “We did the complicated bit first and then built out the vanilla business; if you can place a convertible’s delta in the market, then you can distribute straight equity. It is not a surprise for us to be where we are.”

Standing out from the crowd

Building the business in that way enabled JPMorgan to differentiate itself from competitors and prove its creative credentials, says Mr Raghavan. “Because we placed the delta we knew the investors and could deliver them to the client. Doing equity-linked deals gives you the opportunity to be smarter and more innovative. That’s a great way to build your footprint.”

The translation of equity-linked expertise into conventional equity business has slowly gathered pace over the past five years or so, spanning deals such as that for Fortis in 2002 when JPMorgan invented the floating rate equity-linked subordinated hybrid (Fresh) product – the first convertible bond to qualify as bank capital – and the extraordinary deal for Allianz in January 2005, which combined an equity-linked exchangeable bond, a straight equity placement and a hybrid capital issue.

It was not rocket science, yet this deal managed to satisfy an entire year’s funding needs in a single €4bn swoop without damaging the insurer’s share price, and at the same time strengthened earlier structures.

“There was a great ‘mindshare’ between client and bank,” says Mr Raghavan. “Intellectually, we had fun, while making sure we achieved all the client’s objectives.”

Mr Raghavan believes that this kind of mindshare is a quality that defines JPMorgan’s ECM business, and is partly determined by the longevity of the bank’s ECM team. This includes key members such as Klaus Hessberger and Ina De, co-heads of EMEA ECM origination; Monika Weiler, responsible for the equity-linked business; Sylvie Sauton*, head of ECM for France/Belgium; and Donal Quigley, head of ECM execution.

“It is the same team that has taken the bank from 18th in the league tables to the top tier, and we have worked zealously to get here. That level of achievement over so many years creates continuity and a close relationship with clients,” he says.

In 2006 – the first year that Mr Raghavan believes showed all the fruits of the team’s hard work – the firm demonstrated an impressively (and in the current climate, reassuringly) diverse business in terms of product, industry and geography. The bank’s equity-linked business continues to impress – with transactions such as the $5.8bn mandatory convertible for US-based mining firm Freeport-McMoRan – but it is participation in a growing list of trophy IPO deals that shows how JPMorgan’s ECM business has matured.

2007 Head of international equity capital markets.

2006 Head of EMEA and Asia-Pacific equity and debt capital markets.

2003 Sole head of EMEA equity capital markets.

2002 Promoted to joint head of EMEA capital markets.

2000 Joined JPMorgan as head of equity-linked capital markets for Europe & Asia-Pacific.

1998 Promoted to head of equity-linked capital markets for EMEA and Asia-Pacific at Lehman Brothers.

*Sylvie Sauton (Lehman Brothers) ... I remember you as well.

Full Article: The Banker (subscribers access)

Read More......

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Staff retention problems? Look in the mirror

“One of the best ways to assess the quality of an organization is to look at those who are leaving it.”

John McKee at Techrepublic says one of the best ways to assess the quality of an organization is to look at those who are leaving it: "If a company can attract but not retain solid performers, it's likely the company will be spending far too much on the wrong things."

McKee goes on to say that many managers think it’s the other way around. They say the best way to tell is by looking at the people who are joining their team. “If good people are coming aboard, that’s proof that we are building strength, right?”


One of the best ways to assess the quality of an organization is to look at those who are leaving ... when the good ones from the senior management team jump ship you have to ask yourself some important questions ...

Attracting great talent has a lot to do with many things. These include the advertising done to get the attention of prospective employees, the place where the interview occurs, who is doing the interview (are they a good salesperson for the employer?) and the compensation package being offered. If an organization has a good brand reputation it’s even more likely to attract good people in the door.
But what really counts is the rate of employee churn. If a company can attract but not retain solid performers, I’ve found that it’s likely the company will be spending far too much on the wrong things. No company with high employee turnover is focused on doing the right things i.e.: satisfying their market.

Two new studies out of Canada have some interesting stats regarding why people leave their employers.

First and foremost: Blame the Boss.

The audits were conducted by Monster Canada. They covered over 5000 respondents. Because of the broad scope of Monster users, I think it’s likely to represent a fairly broad spectrum of levels and industries. And because of the similarities between countries, I’d expect it to be fairly consistent with findings done in the US.

The shorthand version of the results - 80% of the respondents blamed their boss for their decision to quit. Only 16% quit for reasons unrelated to the boss.

In greater detail, the reports said:

- 35% said they need expectations to be stated more clearly than is generally the case with their boss. (I believe that most people want to perform well be as effective as possible, but most supervisors don’t take the time to get to know their team members’ individual styles.)
- 32% claimed the boss didn’t treat people fairly. (My thought on this: others were treated unfairly well.)
- 28% reported that the boss ruled by intimidation. (My comment is don’t try this with Millennials or even GenX’ers and expect it to work more than a few times. Works for Boomers in most cases.)
- 27% said their boss should learn to admit when a mistake is made and not blame others.
- 22% noted that supervisors should become more accessible. (Common complaint across industries in my experience. Emails don’t replace face time.)
- 16% said the boss needs to listen to employees more.

I realize that no boss today has the time to do “everything right every time”. That said, it’s clear that the tables are turning because there are more jobs than job seekers in many communities currently. If you want - or expect - to retain the best talent in your shop; I suggest you take a good look in the mirror. Explanations and asking for understanding won’t keep good people.

Read More......

Monday, December 03, 2007

John Thain to deepen 'team work' at Merrill Lynch

“Thain plans overhaul of Merrill Lynch management culture to better emulate Goldman Sachs”

Thain, stated that he believed there was insufficient co-operation between senior Merrill executives. “Merrill has a strong culture but they don’t have the same teamwork at the senior level,” Thain said. “It needs a more co-operative team approach.” Goldman Sachs has long operated on a consensus basis style that dates back to its history as a private partnership firm.

Consensus Style: Effective strategic leaders know how to get everyone involved in policy making and build consensus in the process. Within large complex organizations, whether public or private, consensus is the engine that sustains policy decisions. No strategic leader can succeed unless he or she can build such consensus. Thus, the search for consensus among peers, allies, and even competitors becomes a requirement for shared commitment to a national policy, and to corporate, business policy.

Challenges of Decision Making ...

A team leader has two overriding responsibilities: First, the leader is accountable for the effective functioning of the team. The leader monitors team performance and takes action to improve team effectiveness. Teams tend to perform best when responsibilities are shared and leadership tasks are distributed among members. Empowered team members are more likely to take responsibility for team success. Second, the leader is responsible for developing a stable leadership structure. Many decision-making teams tend to be more effective when the framework for leadership is clear. These teams tend to work more efficiently, have fewer interpersonal problems, and produce better outputs. Common observations of the strategic decision making process that contribute to the leadership challenge include:

Diverse Team Membership
Lack of Policy Guidance
Low Team Authority
Internal Politics
Organisation Inertia
Lack of Integration
Gaps and Ambiguities

Given these difficulties, it should be no surprise that team meetings can be a journey into foreign territory for each team member. By adopting a "consensus style" of leadership, some of these problems can be eliminated.

Strategic Teams
A strategic team's goal is to make decisions that best reflect the thinking of its members, thus 'forging' consensus. One can easily confuse what consensus is and isn't. Here are some guidelines (Scholtes 1988)

Consensus is having a shared vision for change and common ground found through understanding and negotiation. The framework for consensus is

* Set an agenda for change.
* Build networks and coalitions.
* Conduct bargaining and negotiations.

Consensus Team Decision Making Model (CTDM) identifies factors that distinguish high-performing teams from less productive ones:

* High Conceptual Level
* Prudent Consensus Approach
* Vigilant Decision Management.

CTDM portrays a thinking, collective group capable of high performance. Within the three pillars, there are 14 success factors critical to excellence in team decision making.

* both process & outcome. Consensus is a process in which everyone has their say.
* agreement, but not necessarily complete agreement.

* authoritarian, perfect, conformist, or bland.
* the team leader imposing decisions & team members complying.
* a perfect team agreement representing first priorities of all team members.
* a unanimous decision.
* majority vote.
* "groupthink,"
* a bland, watered-down proposal having no substance, and entailing no risks.

A consensus decision is one that all team members can support.(Brilhart and Galanes 1989). Effective consensus falls somewhere on a continuum between perfect agreement and total discord.(Priem 1990).

Strategic decision-making teams must operate at the proper conceptual level. This means employing multiple frames of reference and "staying out of the weeds." They search for consensus among themselves, within their organizations, among interested groups, and with the public. Finally, strategic teams avoid consuming limited resources or prolonging action, thereby missing strategic opportunities.

* What is the success factor?
* Why is it critical to strategic teams?
* How do high-performing teams exercise the factor?
* How do less productive teams fail to apply the factor?
* What methods help strategic teams improve?

How you make decisions at the strategic level is just as important as the decision itself. The best decision in the world is nothing without a powerful consensus for action. The most perfect consensus in the world is useless unless it has produced a decision that is good for the organization. At the front end of the entire consensus team decision making process is something called "inputs." People who enter into a consensus decision making must come armed with critical and creative thinking skills that will allow them to efficiently and effectively function at the strategic level.

Read More......

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The New CIO Leader

“Definitive work that sets the standards in the industry ”

Marianne Broadbent and Ellen Kitzis: The CIO Leader outlines the path the CIO must take to become that leader - and to deliver on the promise of IT to yield real, measurable, and bankable results. Its a really interesting read, another great book from Gartner setting the agenda that takes you through the demand and supply side of the CIO what to expect when facing challenges and growth, it the must have book for CIO and CEOs.

Extract from the introduction The Crossroads

“Two paths diverged in a wood… and I took the one less traveled.” —Robert Frost

Chief information officers today stand at a crossroads. The role of each CIO is inevitably changing, because of two perspectives on information technology (IT). On the one hand, there is the lingering disaffection with IT from the Internet bust, the technology capital spending overhang, the popular press’s assertion that IT is now irrelevant in discussions of competitive advantage, and the hysteria about IT jobs moving overseas. On the other hand, IT is gaining renewed interest for several reasons.

The global economy seems to be finally escaping the doldrums, and business executives are desperate for innovation. Additionally, the regulatory environment has put far more emphasis on the timeliness, completeness, and accuracy of corporate information. Finally, technology is playing a foundational, if not a central, role in virtually every product and service

Standing still is not an option—every CIO will follow one of two paths based on these perspectives. The path influenced by the view that IT is irrelevant to competitive advantage leads to a role that might be called chief technology mechanic, a role ultimately no more prestigious than that of factory floor manager. The other path, influenced by the view that IT is at the heart of every significant business process and is crucial to innovation and enterprise success, leads to a role we call the new CIO leader. The new CIO leader bears all the prestige, respect, and responsibility of other senior executive positions (in fact the position will be a not infrequent steppingstone to COO and CEO positions).

CIO Leaders - Top 10 Priorities

1. Laying the Foundation: Leadership

Leadership and management are different but complementary. Management is about execution. Leadership is about change, specifically influencing others to change. Leading through influence is critical for New CIO Leaders. They must lead their business colleagues by influencing their view of IT but without a formal base of authority or power. CIOs can't TELL their business colleagues what to do, but they can influence the decisions they make.

2. Understand the Fundamentals of Your Environment

CIO leadership falls into two categories — demand side and supply side leadership. The demand side is where you lead your business colleagues, helping to determine why, where and how IT will be used to meet business goals. The first aspect of demand side leadership is developing an intimate knowledge of the fundamentals of your environment — how your business operates, its past, current and expected future performance, its goals and strategies, its industry and competitors, etc. Without understanding your environment you can't lead effectively.

3. Create Your Vision

Leadership is about influencing change. To influence change you must have a vision for what change is necessary, what the future looks like. Your vision as CIO has to be grounded in an intimate knowledge of the persistent business needs of your organization. Only then will your vision for achieving business goals be useful and compelling to your business colleague

4. Shape and inform expectations for an IT enabled enterprise

There will always be more IT work to be done than resources allow. Therefore it is critically important to work with your business colleagues to develop appropriate expectations for the use of IT in your organization. To do so, you must achieve consensus on business needs, strategies, and endeavors and the guiding principles or IT maxims that will inform the inevitable trade-offs. Your business colleagues need to be intimately involved in this process so that they know, understand and approve of the guiding framework for decision making on the use of IT in your organization.

5. Create clear and appropriate IT governance

IT Governance is the secret weapon of successful New CIO Leaders. Good governance enables you to effectively weave together business and IT strategies and to consistently build credibility and trust. To do so, your governance styles and mechanisms must be matched to your environment and the expectations of your business colleagues. Your business colleagues must understand how specific decisions are made so that they trust the process and ultimately can be confident in the outcomes.

6. Weave Business and IT strategies together

An IT Strategy contains the key decisions about specific technology implementations over a defined period of time in areas like infrastructure, applications, and architecture. New CIO Leaders take a portfolio approach with their IT strategy, actively managing the strategy to assure balance and the achievement of business goals.

7. Busines a New IS Organisation

CIO leadership falls into two categories -- demand side and supply side leadership. New CIO Leaders not only lead on the demand side, with their business colleagues, but also on the supply side, leading the IS organization to meet the organization's goals and expectations. To meet these business-focused expectations, New CIO Leaders need an appropriately organized and focused IS organization. The New CIO Leader's IS organization must be leaner and more focused on business results by appropriately using strategic sourcing of IT services, by adopting process based working, and by using all the financial resources available to it.

8. Develop a High-Performing IS Team

For New CIO Leaders to succeed they need not only a new IS organization but a team that is appropriately skilled and committed to achieving business results. Just like you, your IS team needs new and different competencies to succeed. These new competencies are much more focused on strategic thinking and relationship building than on technical skills.

9. Manage Enterprise and IT Risk

New CIO Leaders are needed because IT is embedded in every critical business process in today's organizations. However, there is also significant risk associated with this state of affairs IT risks affect the whole enterprise. New CIO Leaders must proactively step up to manage the new enterprise risks related to IT and new regulatory environments.

10. Communicate Your Performance

Leadership depends on credibility and credibility is built on results. New CIO Leaders ensure that results are widely known and understood by communicating IS performance at every opportunity. They develop "dashboards" that allow business colleagues to see and understand the value received from IT in business terms.

Read More......

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Banker Awards 2007

Representing a record 143 countries and all the regions of the world, are the cream of the global banking community and the best achievers in the industry

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Mandy Mannix scoopes Women in City Award

“Mandy Mannix, managing director and global head of capital solutions, scooped the inaugural award for achievement from Women in the City”

As well as building the capital solutions business for Lehman Brothers in Europe on a global level, which involves sourcing new capital for hedge funds, Mannix has recently been appointed co-head of €-WILL, Lehman Brothers' women's network.

Mannix said she was pleased that the award would help her mentor other women, which she believes is crucial. She said: "It gives me an even greater platform to reach other talented females across the industry. I am very pleased to have the opportunity to extend my own professional knowledge through the educational aspect of this award. I believe that mentoring plays an essential role in both career development and professional growth."

Source: e-financials

Read More......

Wall Street's highest-paid female executive

Zoe Cruz ex Co-President of Morgan Stanley ousted three weeks after the firm disclosed $3.7 billion of losses on mortgage-related securities”

Zoe Cruz born and raised in Greece, solidified her position as a powerhouse on Wall Street, she started in investment banking, joined Morgan Stanley in 1982 as a foreign exchange trader and became head of fixed income trading by 2000. Known as the "cruise missile" for her combative style in business.

2007 Fortune 1 of 50 Most Powerful Women rank: #16
2007 Fortune 1 of 6 female CEOs-to-be
2006 Fortune #1 Highest Paid Female - Total compensation: $30 million

Cruz counsels young people not to plan their careers ... "When you don't plan, things are easier," she says. "You focus on doing a great job."

Zoe Cruz, 52, a 24-year veteran of the Morgan Stanley, was viewed by analysts as a leading candidate to succeed Chief Executive Officer John Mack. Her departure adds to the list of banking executives who have lost their jobs amid more than $50 billion of credit losses tied to subprime home loans.

Read More......

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Overcoming Layoffs

“Bear Stearns expects to take $1.2bn in write-downs, and is set to layoff 650 to cut costs due to the sub-prime crisis”

Bear Stearns reported today in e-financials 29 Nov 2007, it expects to cut (4% of its global workforce) to reduce costs. 20 job losses in London. Chief Executive James Cayne announced ... “As we indicated at the end of last month, we are continuing to rationalise our business, monitor staffing needs and align our infrastructure with current market conditions,” Bear said. It said that it will make strategic hires in growth area

Overcoming Layoffs, how to survive

One of the most difficult tasks as a manager is making layoffs. Those involved in downsizing are often left with feelings of survivor’s guilt, wondering why their jobs were retained while star performers or rising IT executives were let go.
Other stories on this topic

Layoffs are likely to bring fear and uncertainty to those left behind, meaning you and your remaining staff. Those employees who retained their positions may be doing two jobs, working extra hours, adjusting to the new culture and feeling badly for those who didn’t survive the organizational change ...

“While much emphasis is put on the pain of those who lose their jobs, those remaining experience a wave of emotions,” says Julie McClatchey of Employee & Family Resources (EFR), a company that administers employee assistance programs. “It’s typical to feel both relief and guilt.”

Here are some tips to help you navigate workplace change and help your employees:

* Stay connected. Talk to family, friends and co-workers. Seek professional counseling if needed.

* Practice healthy coping behaviors. Overeating, oversleeping and excessive use of alcohol only provide temporary release, not solutions. Instead try to maintain your usual routine, exercise and get enough sleep.

* Recognize change is inevitable and view it as an opportunity to learn new skills or adapt your career.

* Give the reorganized workplace a chance, but prepare to leave if the new situation isn’t working and the company’s outlook doesn’t improve. And of course, keep your resume updated and network for opportunities.

Read More......

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Leadership Principles

“You were given the job as the Leader to quickly make things happen and make things better”

Leaders take charge, make things happen, dream big dreams and then translate them into reality. Leaders attract the voluntary commitment from followers, energize them and transform organisations into new entities with greater potential for growth, excellence and market superiority.

Leaders are never content with things the way they are. To be leading, by definition, is t be in front, breaking new ground, conquering new worlds, moving away from the status quo. Great Leaders are never satisfied with current level of performance. They constantly strive for higher and higher levels of achievement. They move beyond the status quo themselves, and they as the same of those around them.

Before becoming a Leader, you must learn to be a great follower. The best Leaders are those who have served many apprenticeships.

Do what good Leaders do ...

- Accept Responsibility
- Accountable for Results
- Self disciplined
- 0Good Character
- Learn to grow and develop
- Communicator (learn the power of silence - Listen)
- People skills
- Build Momentum
- Take Action
- Set Performance Standards and Expertations
- Earn Trust, Loyality and Support
- Develop & Build Teams
- Delegate
- Have Courage, Risk Taker
- Make Decisions
- Attitude & Enthusiasm
- Humility & Empathy
- Stay cool with the heat is on
- Creates Vision
- Knows when to say NO

Read More......

Thursday, November 22, 2007

There's no substitute for experience

“Michael J. Saylor,Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Microstrategy (Business Intelligence) in 2001. ...”

"When Sanju Bansal and I started the company, we were 24, and we were like people who had taken up yachting for the joy of the sport. Then we got successively better and better, and finally we took a ship onto the open ocean on a major voyage. And the first voyage worked well, the second worked better, the third one worked great, and then -- with the entire world looking on -- we were caught in a "perfect storm." We came out the other end with our lives, but we lost part of our crew. And now I'm sailing again in 2001, but I don't look at the ship the same way anymore. I'm never going to look at the ship as a joy ride. I can't. But then again, maybe that's what qualifies me to run a company. Maybe that's what qualifies a captain to captain a ship."

MicroStrategy was named as Forbes 200 Best Small Companies: Pure-Play Business Intelligence Software Vendor Receives High Marks for Sales Growth, Profit Growth, and Return on Equity

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Great Leaders overcome Blindspots

“Leaders who are so successful can sometimes become too complacent and fail to see changes around them.”

Just the other day I came across an article in Business Week written by by Henry S. Givray "When CEOs Aren't Leaders" Givray writes that the terms "CEO" and "leader" have mistakenly become synonymous. Stating, nothing could be further from the truth. He goes onto described how CEOs are measured by quantitative results, and Leaders are shaped and defined by character. His distinction between the CEO who is expected to boost sales, improve profit margins, and make money for shareholders. Whereas the Leaders role is to inspire and enable others to do excellent work and realize their potential. As a result, they build successful, enduring organizations.

After reading "When CEOs Aren't Leaders" it made me think about Benjamin Gilad in "Business Blindspots" -- Denial, failure, or refusal to see reality are the biggest problems companies face. And how these problems wrecked IBM, Digital, General Motors, Sears, Hoffman-La Roche, Schwinn, American Express, Tandy, Citibank, Xerox, Kodak, etc.

Jack Welch, General Electric's CEO, once defined management as the task of "staring reality straight in the eye" and then having the courage to act. This is much easier said than done. There are two basic problems with this definition. First, management must be close enough to reality to stare it in the eye. Second, it must not only stare but also see what is in front of its face. This is a tall order. The reason why No.1 top management, through no fault of its own, is never close enough to the market. No.2 some top executives can't see competitive reality staring at them because of 'blindspots'

Many top managers face change only when it hits them in the head, then its too late. $64 billion answer is the people who are in touch with their people at ground level are facing reality, even when they stare straight at it. Nobody expects a CEO to be able to do everything. But you have to be able to recognize your blind spots and delegate someone else to manage. There is an old saying, "A good company has many leaders, a great company has but 3"

Read More......

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Is it a job staying friends with workmates?

“Workships and Colleagueships have to be cultivated”

Sathnam Sanghera from the Times article ... How many friends do you have? Not acquaintances. Or spacebook pals. But proper mates: people who would still come to visit if you swapped trading exotic derivatives in the City for a part-time job flogging hot tubs in Wolverhampton. It’s a question we all ask ourselves periodically – usually at 3am, after a bottle of Bombay Sapphire -

though when I considered it recently I was taken aback by the answer. Not because the number was so low. At eight mates, I have, according to a recent survey, the average number for someone just out of their twenties. But because several people who would have made the cut last year – colleagues at my then employer I regarded as pals for life – no longer did so.

The revelation made me feel guilty until a conversation with some new colleagues made it evident that shedding workfriends was par for the course. One said he had accumulated just two lasting mates over nine years at two preceding workplaces. Another said she had not retained a single real friend over eight years at four preceding workplaces. It seems friendship is eternal, unless you meet at work, in which case it lasts until the moment you are escorted out of the building by security.

Why is this the case? On reflection, I think there are three factors at play, the first of which is the simple reality that work friendships, though they don’t feel like it at the time, tend to be shallow. As with family members, you don’t get to choose your colleagues, and the things that bring you together are usually not profound: office politics; necessity; gossip; bitching; drinking; a shared predilection for Drifter bars. And when work is taken out of the equation it can quickly become apparent that you actually have nothing in common.

The second reason why work friendships rarely survive a career move is that, for the friends you have left behind, you are the epitome of their failure and/or paralysis. It’s shaming, but envy plays a role in most friendships – We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful, as Morrissey sang – but inevitably plays a particularly big role in work relationships as success is so valued in office culture. And even if they are not envious, even if your new job is a demotion, they may still find your departure psychologically traumatic, for you have weighed up the pros and cons, and decided friendship is not enough to keep you at the company. Such rejection can be hard to take.

Conversely – and this is the third reason why workplace friendships are so hard to sustain – you may no longer want to see your former workmates because they epitomise the uncomfortable fact that you are dispensable. At some level, no matter how well adjusted you are, you want your former employer to collapse without you, to come begging for your return on a daily basis, but seeing your cheerful former colleagues is a reminder that everyone is getting on fine without you. There is an analogy to be made here to romantic relationships. You may have ended an affair, and want the other person to be happy, but you still don’t necessarily want to hear about what a great time they’re having without you. To some degree, you want them to be eternally bereft, permanently pining for you.

So does all this mean workplace friendships aren’t worth the bother? There are certainly people out there who subscribe to the adage that business and friends should never mix. Numerous self-help books advise avoiding friendships at work on the grounds that they raise the risk of being gossiped about, create drama and cliques, and distract you from the task of actually getting some work done. Incredibly, some companies even have “nonfraternisation” policies that prohibit employees from having friendships beyond the workplace.

However, other companies go out of their way to encourage fraternising, designing offices to encourage employees to congregate and putting on events to encourage them to socialise. There is evidence to suggest they are wise to do so. Various studies have shown that having friends at work lowers staff turnover and increases safety, productivity and customer loyalty. Moreover, many employees view friendship as a perk: asked to choose between having a best friend at work or a 10 per cent pay rise, in one recent survey, the friend won out among respondents.

Indeed, I think workplace friendships are always worth cultivating. We spend most of our life at work, and anything that makes that time more pleasurable is precious. And anyone who says that such relationships are not really friendships – some experts go as far as suggesting they should be renamed “colleagueships” or “workships” – does not really understand the nature of friendship.

Yes, “workships” tend to be shallow, but friendships don’t need to be deep to be valuable. We get different things from different people. Some mates are mates because they are lovely people, brilliant advisers, and share our values. Others just make us laugh, or put on cool parties, or have a holiday cottage in Tuscany. A friendship based on work is no less valid.

And so what if doesn’t last? I interviewed Julie Burchill some time ago and remember being horrified when she remarked it was necessary to dispose of pals periodically. “Friends are forever!” I thought, recalling what I think is a line from The Care Bears Movie. But having grown up a little since then, having dumped some friends and been dumped in return, I realise she was right. Just because a relationship doesn’t last doesn’t mean it was not worth pursuing in the first place. Besides, some workmates do survive all of the above – I am fortunate in having a couple that have done – and when they do, they are worth their weight in derivative contracts

Read More......

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Don't shoot the Messenger

“Sometimes its not the Message its the Messenger”

"Shooting the messenger" metaphoric phrase to describe the act of lashing out at the (blameless) the bearer of bad news ... "Don't shoot the messenger" was first expressed by Shakespeare in Henry IV, part 2 (1598) [citation needed] and in Antony and Cleopatra[1] (1606-07). An analogy of the phrase can come from the breaching of an invisible code of conduct in war, where a commanding officer was expected to receive and send back emissaries or diplomatic envoys sent by the enemy unharmed. During the early Warring States period of China, the concept of chivalry and virtue prevented the executions of messengers sent by opposing sides.

Bad news by definition is bad. So bear in mind "Clarity is the antedote to anxiety" ... use these 7 tips:-

1. Avoid putting the bad news between good news. The old good-bad-good combination only confuses people. Many victims of this approach walk away remembering the good news and forget the bad.

2. Just get it over with. If the person is about to get blasted, he won't benefit from a discussion about his weekend.

3. Use tact & be direct. If it isn't working out, say so.

4. Separate the person from the problem. Stay focused on behaviors, not personalities. The person may be a bad fit for that job and can be valuable to another organization. Your job is to judge performance, not people.

5. Do not rush it. Allow some time for discussion. The person may need to clarify what the bad news means.

6. Say it and be quiet. Leaders sometimes feel a need to go on and on. State your reasoning and be done. You give away your authority by justifying yourself too much.

7. Avoid telling people the whats and whys. Don't make bad news worse by telling people who don't need to know.

Read More......

When Big is too Big becomes Complex

“Head of HM Revenue quits after details of seven million child benefits claimants go missing in security breach”

Shocking ... Breach of security in Inland Revenue puts people details at risk. HM Revenue and Customs chairman Paul Gray resigned after "a substantial operational failure" in the department. The uncertainty now is that this major government department "fit for purpose" HMRC was created by the merger of the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise at a time when the Treasury was demanding thousands of staff cuts, and has been under "immense pressure" How is it possible to lose two DVD/CDs in an internal system, and why would data of this sensitive nature be stored on this data format!

Chancellor of the Exchequer Mr Darling may have taken his eye off the ball with the organisation in the midst of Northern Rock crisis, which has seen billions of pounds of taxpayers' money being used to prop up the ailing bank amid suggestions that it may never be fully repaid.

Read More......

Playing to your Strengths

“The one thing you need to know about sustained individual success”

Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.
Marcus Buckingham - The One Thing You Need to Know ...

The odds are that you – like most people – are not playing to your strengths at work most of the time. Recent polls reveal that less than two out of ten people – the actual figure is 17% – say they spend the majority of their day "playing to their strengths". Even if you devote 25% of each day to all those things you don't like to do, or that bore you, or frustrate you – your non-negotiables – this still leave 75% of your time at work to fill with activities that call upon your strengths. And yet so few of us do.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Nothing in this world that worth having comes easy

“Gartner predicts that by 2009, six out of ten collaboration-related IT projects will link supplier, partner and customer personnel”

... heralding a move away from the traditional, closed, inward-looking organisation to a more open, collaborative and innovative environment. Innovation in the future will depend increasingly on extending your business to include a wider community and this will not be without risks. An active, managed approach to open innovation will enable organisations to take collaboration to the next level and compete fully on a global level. Being more open, raises risk, the biggest issue is changing the culture inside the organisation to look favourably on collaboration and supporting social interaction

Source: Gartner Group

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Top-tier investment banks set to pay out $38bn in bonuses

“Wall Street giants split $38bn bonus pool”

Wall Street’s largest investment banks are planning to pay out about $38bn (€25.9bn) in bonuses to employees this year, despite shareholders in the securities industry losing $74bn of their equity, reports Bloomberg. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns will split the figure between about 186,000 staff, up from the $36bn paid out last year. The larger bonus pool derives from record fees for mergers and acquisition advisory and underwriting initial public offerings and comes in spite of losses incurred as a result of the collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market and its effect on the global credit markets.

Source: e-Financials News

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Bank chiefs face three tough issues

“3 pressing Issues for Incoming chief executives of investment banks Q407-2008”

How will they reward their best people?
Which growth bets are they going to take?
How can they control non-compensation costs, which have rocketed?

1. Compensation: Massive writedowns in fixed income and leveraged loan businesses have put staff bonuses under threat. But with some equity capital markets and mergers and acquisitions departments producing record revenues, banks must strike the right balance to keep top performers.

Upside: removal of department heads, holding departmental heads accountable, reshuffles are positive because group-think can set in during a downturn ...

2 Making the right bets: expectations of a full recovery in the credit markets but not until after 2008, banks and shareholders anticipate more growth next year and more (geographic (or) business) risk,

Upside: growth areas in emerging markets, non-debt related structured products and commodities ...

3 Controlling costs:
in the past five years infrastructure cost (IT and Risk management) has rocketed. Fall in revenues exposes how much banks’ platform costs have increased. Big banks look to take ‘offshoring’ to the limit -- exporting costs to external providers, even Human Resources. Growth in emerging markets (Russia, Turkey and the Middle East) ...

Upside: constant investment and upgrades in infrastructure. Small banks considering giving more budgetary power to individual business units in order to impose cost controls more locally ...

Source: e-Financials News

Read More......

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gender Gap is narrowing

“Gender Gap narrows in Nordic countries”

The World Economic Forum releases its Global Gender Gap report today ranking 128 countries in terms of their gender divide. Sweden tops the list having closed 80% of it's gender gap, according to the findings. The report assesses countries in four categories: economic participation and opportunity, health and survival, educational attainment and political empowerment. All countries in the top 20 made progress relative to their scores last year – some more so than others. Latvia (13) and Lithuania (14) made the biggest advances among the top 20, gaining six and seven places respectively, driven by smaller gender gaps in labour force participation and wages. The Report covers a total of 128 countries, representing over 90% of the world’s population.

The Gender Gap Index assesses countries on how well they are dividing their resources and opportunities among their male and female populations, regardless of the overall levels of these resources and opportunities. By providing a comprehensible framework for assessing and comparing global gender gaps and by revealing those countries that are role models in dividing these resources equitably between women and men, serves as a catalyst for greater awareness as well as greater exchange between policymakers.

Source: World Economic Forum | download PDF rankings

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The Top 50 Thinkers

“Business gurudom remains a man's world, with only three women in the top 50”

1. C. K. Prahalad Indian management guru
2. Bill Gates Geek-turned-philanthropist
3. Alan Greenspan Ex-Federal Reserve chairman
4. Michael Porter Competitive strategy author
5. Gary Hamel Business strategist
6. W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne INSEAD professors - Blue Ocean Strategy
7. Tom Peters In Search of Excellence author
8. Jack Welch Former GE CEO-turned-columnist
9. Richard Branson Iconic British entrepreneur
10. Jim Collins Good to Great author

11. Philip Kotler Kellogg’s marketing guru
12. Robert Kaplan & David Norton The creators of the balanced scorecard
13. Kjell Nordstrom & Jonas Ridderstralle Funky Business duo from Sweden
14. Charles Handy The original portfolio worker
15. Stephen Covey The man with seven successful and highly effective habits
16. Henry Mintzberg Controverisal Canadian management expert
17. Thomas Stewart Editor of Harvard Business Review
18. Malcolm Gladwell Author of The Tipping Point and Blink
19. Lynda Gratton London Business School professor and author of Hot Spots
20. Donald Trump US Apprentice host

21. Scott Adams Creator of Dilbert
22. Ram Charan Co-author of Execution
23. Vijay Govindarajan A Tuck professor and GE’s new chief innovation consultant
24. Warren Bennis Veteran on leadership
25. Clayton Christensen Innovation expert
26. Thomas Friedman Author of The World is Flat
27. Kenichi Ohmae Globalisation guru
28. Rosabeth Moss Kanter Renowned Harvard academic and author
29. Steve Jobs Apple’s iconic business leader
30. John Kotter Leadership and change guru

31. Jeff Immelt Jack Welch’s successor at GE
32. Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones Authentic leaders at London Business School
33. Adrian Slywotsky Heavyweight modern strategist
34. Marshall Goldsmith Coach to the top executives
35. Bill George Another fan of authentic leadership
36. Larry Bossidy Co-author of Execution with Charan (22)
37. Daniel Goleman The father of social and emotional intelligence
38. Marcus Buckingham Top self-help guru
39. Howard Gardner Harvard’s creator of the multiple intelligence concept

40. Edward de Bono Supreme lateral thinker
41. Al Gore Climate change campaigner
42. David Ulrich Human resources expert
43. Seth Godin An insightful marketer
44. Costas Markides Charismatic strategist
45. Rakesh Khurana Harvard thinker
46. Richard D’Aveni Hyper-competition expert
47. Peter Senge Learning organisation guru
48. Chris Argyris The originator of the learning organisation concept
49. Jeffrey Pfeffer Stanford intellectual
50. Chris Zook Bain consultant-turned-author

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Front- and middle-office technology becomes a competitive differentiator

“Wealth management IT spending to top $28 billion by 2012”

The mass affluent market remains a growth opportunity for the banking sector as the asset base of typical investors grows. According to Datamonitor research, spending by financial services firms on front-to-back wealth management IT in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific will reach $28.5 billion by 2012 as they increase investment in the technology to cope with regulations and stay competitive.
The emergence of a mass affluent segment, which includes individuals holding $60,000 to $500,000 in onshore liquid assets, including cash and deposits, equities, bonds and unit trusts, is fueling growth in new services and distribution options. This will require a more sophisticated approach to technology. Wealth managers, private bankers and retail banks are no longer talking of standalone strategies for wealthy individuals. The trend is towards 'integrated financial solutions,' revolving around cross-selling banking, savings, and investment products that come complete with advice.

Front- and middle-office technology becomes a competitive differentiator

Effective front- and middle-office tools, such as portfolio management, financial planning and analytical customer relationship management (CRM) systems, lie at the heart of wealth management operations. Clients, particularly the more active 'new money' segment, are demanding a more hands-on approach from their relationship managers. This creates a need for advisors and front-office staff to have access to more agile, automated analytical tools and presence technologies that enable client interactions to be more effective from both a cost and a time perspective.

As wealth managers seek greater competitive differentiation, they will look to develop an 'ideal' service model. The 'ultimate offering' is an idealized wealth management offering and should be viewed as prototype based on worldwide offerings. It is an architecture comprised of seamlessly interconnected, service oriented architecture (SOA)-enabled components combined with underlying business intelligence (BI) and analytical CRM components. It is emerging as the IT model in wealth management.

Well developed multi-channel features provide a foundation for effective distribution

A key priority within distribution channels will be the continuous delivery of high-quality face-to-face advice, while simultaneously providing customers with internet-based transactional capabilities. Retail banks looking to target this group are extending their offering beyond traditional retail banking services to include additional product building, stronger and multi-channel customer and advisor service options, and a deeper understanding of customer data.

Data management priorities are shifting to infrastructure and governance

The presentation of data has always been among the top priorities of wealth managers as data reporting often determines whether a client will stay with the company. However, increasing pressure to reduce costs is causing focus to shift to back-office improvements, such as infrastructure and governance. As such, the combination of increasing competition, growing technological sophistication and an expanding mass affluent market is driving wealth managers to enhance their data management practices.

Wealth managers shift towards packaged core systems

Financial institutions are responding to the growing need for more automated and real-time back-office systems that are compliant with growing regulatory pressures. As a result, wealth mangers are turning to packaged core systems as a means of reaching these goals.

In order to align the existing technology stack with business needs, and to design, upgrade or develop componentized wealth management software platforms and IT infrastructure, understanding the 'ultimate offering' will be crucial for internal IT departments, as well as for technology vendors and integrators.

Source: CBR

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Reputation Repairing, All change at the top Investment Banks

“John Thain, the head of NYSE Euronext, appointed as Merrill Lynch new chairman and chief executive”

His appointment, effective on December 1, follows the recent departure of Stan O’Neal after Merrill was forced to admit that it had racked up vast credit crunch-related losses. Mr Thain, viewed as a leading contender for the top job at Citigroup, spent more than 20 years at Goldman Sachs, working on its mortgage bond trading desk before becoming president of the group after stints as head of operations, technology and finance, and chief financial officer.

He moved from Goldman to his NYSE role in January 2004 and is credited with transforming the Big Board from a domestic, nonprofit membership organisation into a global bourse. The 52-year-old also master-minded the group’s push into automated trading. Last year, he merged NYSE Group with Euronext to build the first transatlantic exchange operator.

Source: Times

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Making your boss love you

“You’ll turn your boss off with slavish devotion and turn him on by doing his bidding.”

It’s a hard life says ex-banker and author David Charters. Life at the bottom of any corporate food chain is tough. In investment banking it’s particularly so. Brownie points are hard to come by; excellence, timeliness and hard work are taken for granted.

Beneath the gloss of high pay and high living, investment banking has a high failure rate: at many firms the new entrants starting out in the associates’ pool know that only half of them will make it past the two year mark. They may arrive as bright young things, full of hope and ambition, but to the jaded cynics further up the line they are a fungible resource, identikit slave labourers to be put to work night and day, seven days a week.
In this environment, distinguishing yourself from the rest of the crowd is a challenge. Getting bad marks is easy – just try missing a deadline or mis-spelling the chairman’s name in a presentation.

We’ve all attended corporate briefings or ‘town hall’ meetings, where the usual sycophants sit in the front row and are guaranteed to ask an oily, ingratiating question. They usually look the part, aping the managing directors’ dress style, never letting down their guard when it comes to expressing views on senior management or the direction the firm is going down, and always first to sing the corporate song.

Reassuringly, it doesn’t always work. The point about bosses is they didn’t get there by being stupid. When they indulge in grandstanding or victory laps after a successful deal, they adopt a fig leaf of subtlety. They invite the chairman to celebratory drinks with the team, because the junior people on the deal have worked hard and it would be great to see that top management appreciate their efforts – for which read, I’ve done really well, these guys assisted me and I’m smart enough to go through the motions to give them a warm glow.

To get into this position, however, you will need to take few knocks without complaining that you’re being beaten about the head by an industry that expects total commitment 24/7 – this, after all, is what you signed up to.

So when your boss asks you to do another all-nighter – let’s say it’s your third this week – to produce a presentation for a meeting tomorrow morning that he’s known about for days, you grit your teeth and smile.

When he says he’s going out to dinner with his wife, but you should bike the draft round to his house later, you keep on smiling and think what excuse you’ll give your soon to be ex-girlfriend for standing her up again. And when he screams down the phone at you later that the draft he’s looking at doesn’t cover all the additional points he thought of over dinner, you make a Note to Self to improve your powers of telepathy.

Play this game and even if your boss doesn’t come to the conclusion that you are his soul mate, he will at least accord you respect. And when it comes to pitching to the management committee for bonus money, you may just be on his mind.

David Charters’ latest book, Trust me, I’m a banker, is published by Elliott and Thompson, price £9.99.

Source: E-financials

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Quality over Quantity

Former Citigroup chief Chuck Prince commented last week that the firm needed to

“install better leaders within top management rather than break up the various businesses”

Restructuring is an unsettling time for both the management team and its people. It often the case a new person steps into the shoes of his/her predecessor, the reporting lines and the business landscapes shifts from decentralised to centralised and vice-versa.
Todd Thomson ex Citigroup noted at the NY Reuters Finance Summit that “I fundamentally don’t believe the issues at Citi are ones of strategy. I fundamentally don’t believe the issues at Citi are ones of being in too many products and too many businesses. I fundamentally believe it’s an issue of execution.” He futher added: “If you look at every other significant bank out there today, they do exactly the same thing Citi does. There’s nothing that Citi does that JP Morgan doesn’t do, that Bank of America doesn’t do, that UBS doesn’t do, that HSBC doesn’t do. They all do the same things.”

Its true, its not how many product lines you have. It comes back to leadership and execution, having the right person at the top of the company who can look down and see what's happening on the ground level, listens to people, has a management team that works as a team.

Source: Financial News Online

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Monday, November 12, 2007

High-tech multi-million penthouse

“$8.5 million high tech penthouse”

Eight large flat screen monitors, a vintage game room with a twist, and 6-foot speakers with a girlish figure, highlight the ideal bachelor pad. Most of the technology in "Esquire North" is powered by the latest set of powerful chips launched by Intel. Besides the TVs, and the game room, there are enough gadgets to keep a bachelor entertained, including a living video montage on the living room wall.

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