Leaving it all behind

While it's tempting to begin this edition of the column along the lines of last time's theme—‘it's a funny old world’—given that the Iranians are now our best friends and it looks like Gadaffi wasn't that bad after all (a little like Charles Kennedy keeping the lid on the Star Wars cafe scene selection of Liberal Democrats for all those years before they outed themselves, sometimes literally, into the coalition). But no, loftier matter await—notably the issue of 'legacy'. Not the legacy versus sustainability argument, which was the running joke in the BBC sitcom Twenty Twelve, but more the question of what [...]

2014-06-24T13:46:06+00:00June 24th, 2014|Comments Off on Leaving it all behind

It’s a strange world

Don’t you find it odd that, in the UK, a police officer is not allowed to counter-sign a passport application form whereas a banker—that much-reviled figure accused of being responsible for all the woes and ills of the world—still can? Isn’t it strange that despite the untold millions—if not hundreds of millions—of pounds, dollars and euros spent on technology, our industry still doesn’t have true straight-through processing (STP) and many firms are as far away from it as they have ever been? Don’t you wonder why some firms, despite hundreds of years of experience, the benefit of hugely expensive external and internal [...]

2014-06-09T13:50:45+00:00June 9th, 2014|Comments Off on It’s a strange world

New dawn

What a difference a day makes, or more accurately, a Bank Holiday weekend. A somewhat misogynistic acquaintance of mine traditionally ‘calls’ the start of summer when he sees a given number of ladies shedding their drab winter garb and starting to wear colourful summer clothes. Correspondingly, following a slow and sluggish start to the recruitment market prior to Easter, I sense that, for whatever reason, the market has blossomed exponentially and so I’m pleased to call the return of something akin to a proper jobs market. By ‘proper’ I mean a market that is not in distinct disequilibrium with an excess of [...]

2014-05-21T14:59:44+00:00May 21st, 2014|Comments Off on New dawn

Each to their own

The idea of the ‘perfect storm’ is one with which most of us are very familiar—the concept that, at certain times, a unique set of circumstances combine to aggravate a situation with potentially perilous consequences. Those of us working in financial services—and particularly securities services—in the UK are faced with a prime example of it: we are currently working against multiple combined challenges that together are limiting our ability to do business, to live a quality life and are hampering our chances of succeeding in our chosen line of work. Examples are myriad but include the ever-encroaching tide of regulation, which reduces [...]

2014-05-09T11:36:16+00:00May 9th, 2014|Comments Off on Each to their own

Be prepared

As someone whose oratorical style varies between Elmer Fudd and Elmer Gantry—usually depending on my level of interest in the subject being presented and the volume/quality of preparation undertaken beforehand—I have always admired public speakers who can deliver highly complex topics in a clear, concise and confident fashion. We happen to be blessed in our industry with a disproportionately high number of such articulate people. Phil Brown of Clearstream, Peter Adams of BNY Mellon and Alan Cameron of BNP Paribas Securities Services are just a few of the star performers who can gain and hold an audience’s attention in exemplary fashion. A [...]

2014-04-28T14:14:08+00:00April 28th, 2014|Comments Off on Be prepared

Mind altering musings

Have you ever considered that books and drugs are similar in many ways? The right ones, used in the right manner, can make you laugh, feel better, think more deeply or act as a fabulous distraction and antidote to your daily woes. The wrong ones, on the other hand, can make you cry, take you to dark places, constrict your mind and generally have a negative effect on your thinking and outlook. Thankfully, while to the best of my knowledge there are no Walter White-type characters out there in asset servicing land, it’s heartening to know that some of our brightest and [...]

2014-04-15T11:20:10+00:00April 15th, 2014|Comments Off on Mind altering musings

Size is relative

One of my favourite sayings, other than that great politician Tony Blair’s “now is not the time for soundbites [but] I can feel the hand of history on my shoulder”, is that “everything in life is a trade-off”. Now, this saying can be applied to many situations, be it the hassle you put up with from your other half when staying at the pub for ‘one for the road’, the pushback from your body when you’ve gone the additional mile in training, or the benefit of deferred gratification when you make a spending splurge after a long period of parsimony. However, in [...]

2014-03-28T11:48:55+00:00March 28th, 2014|Comments Off on Size is relative

A sunnier disposition

Dear reader, have you ever noticed how significantly your immediate environment can dictate your state of mind and outlook? If your office, the weather or geographical location are sub-optimal, then it's only too easy to have equally grey, despondent thoughts. Over the last few editions of this column, I've touched on post-bonus blues, job insecurity and lack of respect/professionalism in the industry as topics. I suspect that it is no mere coincidence that those articles were written in the 'mizzle' of a Scottish winter or the equally depressing environs of a soulless office space in Central London. However, by contrast, I'm writing [...]

2014-03-19T21:48:12+00:00March 19th, 2014|Comments Off on A sunnier disposition

Respect yourself

In 2005, the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, in one of his less warmongering initiatives, introduced what he termed the ‘Respect Agenda’. Based on Richard Sennett’s 2003 book Respect: The formation of Character in a World of Inequality, the basic gist was that all parties/stakeholders in a given situation should try to respect one another and get along for the benefit of the greater good, and ultimately, themselves. While in Blair’s case this was aimed at general community cohesion, I believe that there are parallels worth heeding in our asset servicing community, be it a community on a global scale. In [...]

2014-02-27T09:39:43+00:00February 27th, 2014|Comments Off on Respect yourself

What’s the only type of doughnut guaranteed not to make you fat? The one you receive at bonus time

Yes, that’s right, the annual fear-fest that is bonus time is upon us. With it comes dreams of Ferraris, ski chalets, Caribbean cruises and happy partners, as well as nightmares of having to pull the kids out of private school, make do with the old car for one more year at least, and not being able to even pay off last month’s credit card bill. Back in the old, bold, golden days of course, there were few such worries—whatever your firm’s/division’s/personal performance, you were guaranteed to receive your fair share of the spoils, and that figure was not overly dissimilar from that [...]

2014-02-12T11:23:31+00:00February 12th, 2014|Comments Off on What’s the only type of doughnut guaranteed not to make you fat? The one you receive at bonus time