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.

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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.

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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.

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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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