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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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"

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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.

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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.

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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

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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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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Goldman Sachs pay exceeds Bear Stearns market cap

“Goldman Sachs has earmarked $16.9bn (€11.5bn) for compensation and benefits for the first nine months of this year”

If its employees pooled all their pay they would be able to buy struggling rival investment bank Bear Stearns with money to spare. The stock market values Bear Stearns at about $14.7bn, so Goldman bankers and other workers would be able to buy the bank led by Jimmy Cayne with more than $2bn left over, according to Bloomberg.

Goldman was the best-performing investment bank in the third quarter when it reported a 79% surge in net profits, while most of its rivals suffered lower or non-existent profits. This enabled the bank to raise compensation for the third quarter by 68%, compared to the same period a year ago, to $5.9bn.

Compensation and benefits expenses were increased by 21% for the first nine months of the year, from $14bn at the same stage in 2006.

Compensation at Bear Stearns for the nine months of the year was $3.1bn, down 5.9% on a year earlier.

Goldman employed 29,905 people at the end of August, while Bear Stearns had almost half that number, with 15,516 workers. Based on those figures, the average compensation of a Goldman employee this year stands at about $565,000, compared to about average pay of about $200,000 at Bear Stearns.

Source: Financial News Online . Dominic Elliott

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Armani's wishlist: super-billionaire

“Italian Fashion Designer seeks Super-Billionaire Backers”

Soundbite ... "I would rule that out. Rather if in the future there is, say, a
fashion lover, a super-billionaire, who would like to join me to show off a
bit as a bringer of money but also security, because he is so rich, and he
somehow wants to be part of this thing, this culture, why not?"

Armani has focused on expanding his business, pushing ahead with projects
ranging from hotels and apartments in Dubai, Milan and Tokyo to mobile phones
and even an Armani-designed television. His furniture business is growing and
he has designed interiors for clients such as film star Leonardo DiCaprio.
In Tokyo he has opened the Armani Tower, his largest project ever.

Amid the glitz of the opening ceremonies and talk in the fashion world
on Tuesday Nov 6, Armani, 72, talked to Reuters and talked frankly about the future
of his company and said he was open to a tie-up with a wealthy "fashion
lover" or another investor and he had an offer from the German maker of
Nivea cosmetics two years ago.

"I would rule that out. Rather if in the future there is, say, a fashion lover, a super-billionaire, who would like to join me to show off a bit as a bringer of money but also security, because he is so rich, and he
somehow wants to be part of this thing, this culture, why not?"
he said.

Apart from Germany's Beiersdorf AG, known for its Nivea products, Armani
also mentioned French cosmetics giant L'Oreal as a possible partner, but said
there were no talks at the moment.

"Or else, a big group with which I already have a relationship, and
to consolidate that relationship through another kind of agreement." he
said, adding that potential partners did not have to be fashion groups but
could also be perfume companies," he said.

Armani however ruled out and slammed "exploitative" private
equity funds, which have been snapping up fashion firms, and ruled out a stock
market listing for his luxury goods empire.

Speculation over the future of Armani has intensified since private
equity firms discovered the juicy profits to be made in the luxury boom thanks
to rising incomes and demand from emerging markets such as China, Russia,
India and the Middle East.

On the other hand, global competition has forced the Italian families
that own labels such as Prada and Versace to open up to invetors through
bourse listings or stake sales.

"It's an exploitation of the work of so many years -- 35 years of
work -- I wouldn't want to see all that ground away only so whoever gains from
it, gains from it. And then what happens with my business?," Armani said
ruling out talks with private equity funds.

In May, private equity fund Permira bought Valentino Fashion Group, a
label with as much weight and tradition as Armani, in a deal worth more than
2.5 billion euros. Carlyle, which lost out on Valentino, is still interested
in the luxury goods sector, as are funds such as Blackstone, Axa, Apax and

Armani, a shrewd business man whose glamorous evening gowns have for
years been a favourite with Hollywood celebrities, has been much more vague
about his future plans than other designers of his generation. Valentino
Garavani, another Hollywood favourite, is retiring, and flamboyant Roberto
Cavalli is considering selling part of his business.

For his part, Armani said, he is not ready to take it easy.
"No, at this moment no. You ask me in a moment when I just saw this
beautiful property, this space. Finally I have proper luxury store like so
many now say is necessary to have, and in Ginza, in this flourishing place. So
you ask me at a moment when I am really not thinking about that
(retirement)," he said.

The Armani group reported consolidated sales of 1.474 billion euros (2.13
billion U.S. dollars) for 2006, up 9 percent, while operating profit rose 19
percent to 246 million euros.

Source: Reuters


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Charisma, a gift or power of leadership or authority

... Charisma plays a huge part in bringing success because it goes hand-in-hand with self-confidence, he says. But although it can be learnt, it can't be faked.

“Charisma is a thing that you either have it or you don't”

First, charisma is entirely subjective: one man’s Martin Luther King is another man’s Iain Duncan Smith.

Secondly, context is everything with charisma: Jack Welch pontificating on the subject of Six Sigma may have been a sight to behold within GE, but would be less impressive on a Friday night at the Wolverhampton branch of Nandos.

Thirdly, the line between charismatic and creepy is a fine one. If you tried to implement all of the aforementioned tips at a champagne reception – especially the “simple touching” and the smiling “through cheekbones” – you could probably clear out the room in seconds.

Source: The Times
Some discoveries ...

charisma is all about “integrity” and being “restless”

charismatic person has three traits:
- they feel emotions strongly,
- they induce these emotions in others,
- they themselves are immune to the influence of other charismatic people.

a major contributing factor to charisma is a broken childhood

your smile should be “pleasant but noncommittal” – it should make you “look like you have a wonderful secret that you will tell or not tell”

And here's some ways on

General: Open body posture, hands away from face when talking, stand up straight, relax, hands apart with palms forwards or upwards

To an individual: Let people know they matter and you enjoy being around them, develop a genuine smile, nod when they talk, briefly touch them on the upper arm, and maintain eye contact

To a group: Be comfortable as leader, move around to appear enthusiastic, lean slightly forward and look at all parts of the group

Message: Move beyond status quo and make a difference, be controversial, new, simple to understand, counter-intuitive

Speech: Be clear, fluent, forceful and articulate, evoke imagery, use an upbeat tempo, occasionally slow for tension or emphasis

Source: Prof Richard Wiseman

A charismatic person has three attributes, says the professor:

* they feel emotions themselves quite strongly;
* they induce them in others;
* and they are impervious to the influences of other charismatic people.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Sub-prime mortgage meltdown hits Citigroup

“Citigroup names Robert Rubin as chairman after Charles Prince exits”

Citigroup has appointed Robert Rubin, the former Treasury Secretary, to be its chairman and Sir Win Bischoff, the group’s European head, to act as interim chief executive, as it emerged that the world’s largest bank would need to take up to $11 billion (£5.3 billion) of further writedowns relating to America’s sub-prime mortgage meltdown. The appointments came after the position of Charles “Chuck” Prince, Citigroup’s chairman and chief executive, became untenable in the wake of huge mortgage-related writedowns in the third quarter and expectations of billions of dollars more to come.
Mr Prince, whose resignation was characterised as a retirement, said: “It is my judgment that, given the size of the recent losses in our mortgage-backed securities business, the only honourable course for me to take as chief executive officer is to step down.”

The sheer scale of the additional losses from sub-prime-related investments, which Citigroup last night estimated at between $8 billion and $11 billion, will send shockwaves across the banking industry

Full Article

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Peter Jones Entrepreneurs Golden Rule Mindset

“Peter Jones ... Ten top tips for achieving entrepreneurial excellence”

1. Vision
2. Influence
3. Confidence
4. Commitment
5. Results-oriented
6. Timing
7. Perserverance
8. Caring
9. Action

Peter Jones - entrepreneur extraordinaire founder of Phones International Group is one of the ten entrepreneurs in UK and panel judge on Dragon's Den.

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