Thursday, 19 March 2009

Same Old Same Old

If you keep doing things the same way, expect the same results!

Just got off the phone to a friend who is now the CEO of a bank in the UK. Apparently, the FSA have increased the number of filings required. Of course, we don't know whether these should always have been filed, or whether they will help the FSA to do its job better. However, it could just be a case of "shutting the stable door after three horses have bolted and beating the horses left".

I used to be hated amongst the back-office jobsworths for asking why returns were needed and what they did with them, as I rarely received any feedback (except when the return was late). I would never suggest that these returns were being used to justify keeping people in jobs, or were being stored up as evidence to cover someone's nether regions in case something went wrong. Far be it from me to do that. However, if a return is required, it costs time and money to produce, review and action. Too many returns seem to be required for the sake of it. If you stick your head above the parapet and ask why, you get into trouble.

Management reports should improve our ability to manage. We need to ensure that they contain sufficient information to be useful. As technology and processes change, so should reports. We should not merely invent a new one in a better format and add it to the existing list. In the end, you end up with so much information that you either cannot use it or go into "analysis paralysis".

It is the head in the sand mentality that got us where we are, and those who did dare to question the status quo should perhaps be listened to in case they have a point. After all, if you can't justify the need for a return, what good is it? As for my friend, he will no doubt produce said returns for what purpose we still don't know.


Monday, 16 March 2009

Brave New World?

We're still making sense of the current global crisis (and having little success in doing so). Fingers are being pointed, blame apportioned (particularly amongst the banks), and rescues being made. Where do we go from here?

Unlike previous crises, this one is neither individual nor sectoral nor regional. It is global and systemic. Finance and the general economy have now become much more inextricably intertwined since the "dotcom bubble" of the start of the millennium. Countries and regions have become much more interdependent thanks to the globalisation of finance. Now, you can have a crisis in one country because local companies are borrowing from foreign banks (witness what is happening in Russia and Eastern Europe).

I am now working out what the "new order" will be. The way I see it, we have several areas to review: regulation, risk management, governance and employment legislation.

I hope it will not result in more regulation, as the result of previous "knee-jerk" legislation has often been to stifle the development of free markets, however well-intentioned (witness Glass-Steagall and Sarbanes-Oxley, to name but two). However, with taxpayers baying for blood, and politicians needing to be "seen to be doing something", I fear that we may get more than we need. What is needed more is better understanding amongst regulators of the risks undertaken and the assurance that if these are raised, the messenger will be heard rather than shot. Would HBOS have survived if Paul Moore's concerns had been heeded?

Do regulators need to cooperate internationally? My view is "yes", given the way that markets are inter-dependent. However, getting different regulators with different national interests to cooperate will, I fear, be a task too long in the making, when action is needed NOW. However, generally accepted international standards will be needed.

We need to accept how closely intertwined the financial and business world has become and work with that. We need to ask ourselves whether it is right that companies expand too rapidly into areas that are not core competencies - as did AIG with Credit Default Swaps. The distinction between high- and low-risk activities became blurred with the availability of cheap credit, plentiful supplies of lenders and innovative financial products. Risk management needs to refocus.

One problem that became apparent was that the failure of one party could set off a chain reaction or domino effect on a much larger scale than before (or could it - BCCI, Barings??). This was why AIG was rescued - they were counterparty to too many deals which would have brought down others. Lehman Brothers, unfortunately, were allowed to fail (although it is said that it could have been rescued through a sale to another party). I know of at least one bank in the Middle East which sacked their CEO, AGM Retail Banking and one third of their retail staff as at least an indirect result of this. No company will be able to run a complete risk analysis of all its counterparties, but they will need to be more aware of what could go wrong if... and plan for this.

On the employment legislation side, we need to be able to hire and fire easily. Noone likes being fired, but it makes sense if industries that cannot cope are able to shed staff so that other sectors which are growing can take them on. Legislation that makes it difficult for a moribund firm to shed staff will simply result in the taxpayer having to support that industry. This is going to be one of the hardest political pills, and will need union support and understanding. What is needed is taxpayer funding for re-training and relocation either of the workforce being made redundant, or in the shape of support for potential new industries that will replace the "moribund" ones.

What we will need is more focus on corporate governance and fiduciary duty, even if it means settling for lower rewards (in fact, it is this behaviour that should be rewarded). If this happens, maybe we can avoid too many layoff scenarios. During the good times, greed overcame reason, inertia overcame common sense, complacency overcame caution. Gordon Brown hubristically claimed that we had abolished boom and bust - how are the mighty fallen!


What Next??

The current crisis is forcing management to concentrate on managing their day-to-day business as we all focus on surviving. One day, things will turn (quite when that will be is anyone's guess), and when they do, will you be ready?

The companies who succeed will the those where management are looking to the future now. They will be asking:

How has our industry sector changed and how will it change as a result of the crisis?

Has it thrown up new barriers to entry or broken down existing ones?

What effects has the crisis had on our existing competition?

Has the crisis thrown up new competition?

Has the crisis opened up opportunities that weren't previously there where we can compete?

How has it impacted our buyers/suppliers?

Are there new buyers/suppliers out there now?

How do we get to them?

What do we need to do to prepare for these opportunities (people, training, systems, investment in fixed assets)?

Will we need additional finance (and how do we get it)?

Those willing to see the opportunity in this time of crisis, to ask these questions now and to will be not only the beneficiaries of the next recovery, but most likely its leaders.


Mergers - Don't Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

Mergers and acquisitions are not new. Whilst they are commonplace events in the papers and on the TV, how much do people think about what actually happens when two organisations get together? Readers of this article may have been on the receiving end of an acquisition or merger (and may even have lost their jobs as a result of elimination of duplication). Alternatively, they may have been involved with the process of integrating another organisation. At present, we are seeing a number of mergers in the financial and business worlds. My concern is that with the focus on managing the merger process, senior management may lose sight of the fact that they are running a business in very tricky markets, with potentially disastrous results.

Those who notice the most difference are management, staff and customers. Management have to learn new frameworks of operations; staff have to learn a new way of doing things and to get to know new colleagues and systems. Customers may see (among others) a change in service, staff who face them, product lines and corporate identity. The engines that drive forward a successful merger or cause it to fail are: customers, staff, products and systems. Get the balance right, and you have a winner; get distracted, and you destroy value (and maybe the organisation).

If we compare mergers with marriages, the phases that I see are: checking out the scene (the process of deciding which company to acquire/merge with and due diligence), courtship (persuading stakeholders that it is a good idea), the marriage (the official announcement of and process of merging), the honeymoon (the post-merger settling down period) and finally a return to “normal life” as a new organisation. Like marriage, the process is complex, needs work and evolves over a number of years.

Management have to manage a variety of factors: integration of staff, culture, systems, procedures, eliminating duplication, legalities, compliance, contract harmonisation, staff, union and customer hearts and minds, politics, stress. It takes years to bed down a merger unless the parties involved are very small, but at the end, the net result has to be an increase in value added. At this time, there is an additional challenge to manage: the current global economic crisis demands extra care.

Everyone has their own views on what makes for a successful merger. My own opinion is that it starts with good quality due diligence – checking out the potential partner. At the beginning of February 2009 Eric Daniels (Chief Executive of Lloyds TSB) revealed that they carried out 3-5 times less due diligence than they would normally have done on HBOS (but did he fall, or was he pushed?). This resulted in Lloyds being forced to take GBP17billion of government capital, announcing write-downs of GBP11billion as a result of their takeover of HBOS, and prompting a drastic fall in their share price. There is speculation that Lloyds were asked to step up to the plate – but at what cost to the UK financial market, already reeling from the credit crunch?

Assuming that due diligence is positive, the next step is persuading stakeholders of the wisdom of the move. Shareholders, staff, customers, unions, regulators, governments, competition authorities amongst others all have to be convinced that this will be a good thing. Will it result in added value all round? The added value may be a stronger business (or a rescued one). Expect staff and customer losses – there will be those who cannot work with the new regime.

Assuming that the above works, management need to set priorities (most of these will, hopefully, have surfaced with the due diligence). They need to think of, amongst others, the strategy for the new organisation in the new competitive landscape, systems, people, products/business lines, customers, fixed assets, corporate identity, financial reporting, regulatory and legal filings. Ideally, there will be a separate merger team reporting to the new Board of Directors. Team members should be drawn from both sides and must have intimate knowledge of their own organisation. It is best if they are completely removed from their “usual” jobs to avoid distraction. Admittedly, this will not always be possible, but it will at least mean that senior management at the higher levels are not distracted by having to continue running their own business as well. Yes, it will cost more, but the longer-term benefits will outweigh this, and remember, you have more staff available. The merger team should also have the ability to co-opt members as needed for varying periods of time if this can be done. Don’t forget your legal advisers and audit firm – they can help, as can interim managers who will often have valuable skill sets at high level.

In the meantime, “business as usual” must continue. There will still be customers to serve. Staff morale will be critical at this time. The best way to keep customers, staff and other stakeholders (e.g. shareholders, unions, banks, regulators) on side is to issue regular updates on progress – so gear up your Communications Department (or put someone in charge of this).

Staff will be particularly concerned over job security and some unpleasant decisions will have to be made. Make it clear what will happen and when, and be sensitive. Staff will have knowledge of systems, customers, processes and networks of others who help them deliver the customer experience. Manage this badly, and you destroy value. There will also be unions to work with. Remember, uncertainty breeds fear; fear breeds poor service.

Any merger means change and uncertainty, but good management minimises potential damage and maintains stakeholder loyalty. The critical steps are: good due diligence at the outset, clearly defined merger steps, a separate merger team reporting directly to the Board of Directors, regular communication to all stakeholders and involvement of the line. The merger process needs to happen alongside “business as usual” even if this implies additional cost to start with.


Saturday, 14 March 2009

Went to see my son's School Play - 1984 by George Orwell - last night. Funnily enough, I was not much older than my son is now when I last read this piece, and in 1984 I myself was studying in Communist Russia at what was then the Leningrad State University.

The play was fantastic - attention grabbing, well-paced and well-acted. The young man playing the main protagonist held the show together for the full two hours needed, displaying a range of emotions and ability incredible for someone so young. However, what I want to talk about is the whole show - and that it was the success it was because of the teamwork of cast, stage crew and directors. My son - at the age of 15 - was in charge of some very tricky lighting where one missed cue would have ruined the effect. Other pupils were in charge of multimedia effects, props, and two walls that moved back and forth as needed. Everyone pulled together to produce a spectacular show.

It made me think about what we are teaching our youngsters. We stress the importance (rightly) of getting good grades in GCSEs (or O-Levels, as they were known when I sat them) and A-Levels, but how much attention do we pay to life skills? By these I mean being able to work and communicate effectively with others; being able to focus on something over a prolonged period of time because if you don't, you ruin the show; being able to understand where you fit into the "big picture"; being able to bring others along with you in pursuit of a vision.

I see many job adverts for people with "strategic thinking ability" and "leadership" and "communication skills". School is where it starts. School is where we prepare our youngsters to lead the future. School, unfortunately, seems to consist of continual tests and assessments which produce nothing except the ability (if you are lucky) to sit tests. We marvel that Oxbridge turn down "Straight-A" students, but if they have nothing to offer except straight As, why should they be accepted? We need rounded individuals, who have taken a few knocks and got back up again to fight. We need people who aren't just theoreticians, but practitioners experienced in something. If they have a capable brain as well, so much the better. How many successful captains of industry do we know who are pure academics?

Let's encourage schools to produce plays, musicals, sports teams, quiz teams. Let's drop the Health & Safety mentality which serves only to stifle the spirit of enquiry, exploration and adventure. We need our risk-takers, our leaders, our "players".

For two hours last night, I was truly in another world, feeling Winston Smith's suffering and doubt, and saddened in the end that "The Party" managed to extinguish the flame of enquiry and rebellion in him. Let us not be "The Party" to our young adventurers today!


Thursday, 12 March 2009

Do Banks Need To Become Boring (Again)?

Banks (and bankers) used to have the image of being staid, slow to change, dull, unadventurous, risk-averse and boring.... What happened?

The way I see it, banks wanted to become interesting and tried to do so with mixed (and at times disastrous) results. David Lascelles in his book Other People's Money charts developments in the industry, but well before the current crunch. We see the rises and falls of individuals and institutions. Banks tried to modernise and get in touch with customers, as opposed to being the distant, lofty beings that they were. A "sales culture" came in, and this is where I think things changed.

At the altar of sales, prudence took second place to pragmatism. Shareholders and analysts expected exponential profit growth year on year, which had to be delivered or else... Fiduciary duty cowered in the face of bonus-driven sales targets. As costs were cut and operations and risk assessment were centralised in regional hubs, branch managers - once the source of true risk awareness and judgement - turned into the eunuchs of the harem. Someone in Head Office always knew better (a reason that I preferred to stay in the branches).

Instead of risk-management, the culture became risk-taking. This was exacerbated over the last 10 years by cheap credit, increased competition and ever-increasing shareholder activism demanding higher returns. Regulation (based on national boundaries and interests) was weak and again forced to back off in the face of all the "good news" coming out. In the end, something had to give. The situation now is remarkably similar to the circumstances (commercial banks taking too much risk with depositors' money) that brought the Glass-Steagall Act into being in 1933. Some would say that this was a natural result of the development of healthy, competitive financial service markets, but perhaps this should not be the case with what people hold dear - i.e. their savings!

What next? Do we return to a system of high risk/reward/returns (investment banking) vs low risk/reward/returns (commercial banking)? Or do we look to do a better job of regulating? If the latter, we need to see regulators cooperating on a global scale and putting national interests second. Given the results of the Doha Trade talks, is this likely? Equally, we need to see a return to fiduciary duty being taken seriously, even if it means lower returns.

The world needs to realise that things have changed since the last big recession (in the 70s?). Financial and non-financial markets are inextricably entwined and the concept of a "regional" or "sectoral" downturn looks obsolete.

When all is said and done, governments, regulators and senior management have fallen down drastically on the job of maintaining confidence in the banking system, and it is the consumer who will foot the bill over the next few years.


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Managing Headcount Cuts

Every manager will have to do this at one time in their career - particularly during these hard times. Noone wants to make colleagues redundant, but this is a natural consequence of downsizing and/or recession.

Whatever happens, three aspects need to be managed: the individual(s) being made redundant, operations going forward and customers. I recently wrote a piece on the pitfalls of cutting headcount, and this posting covers more of the managing of those pitfalls. Get it wrong, and you are in a world of hurt and potentially face going out of business.

I commented that when you cut staff, you would also be cutting: knowledge and experience, networks, morale and customer service. These need to be managed carefully for the sake of the company, the staff left and customers. Injudicious cuts may actually make matters worse if the wrong people are cut.

When being asked/told to cut headcount, the focus will usually be first on the non-performers, then on the more "expensive" staff - those in senior positions or who have been around a long time. The first category are understandable - if they aren't delivering, they shouldn't be there.

The second category are much more dificult as they are likely to be the quietly competent performers who are the backbone of the organisation. You will need to have a good grasp of their knowledge and networks - and this may only be achievable by a properly-organised handover of duties and introduction of contacts. The individual concerned may not cooperate (understandable if they are being dismissed), and so a degree of sensitivity is needed. You may even have to offer a longer "notice" period or assist with relocation to ensure that you obtain the necessary information. You are, after all, talking long-term survival of the company here! Identify who will take over their duties and plan the handover in detail. Job descriptions can help enormously here. Check progress regularly and again, be sensitive. If the individual won't cooperate, then you are looking at "damage control" and will need to plan as much as you can.

On the morale side, communication is the key. Explain to everyone what is happening, why, and what you need from them. Explain that there will be a period of disruption and hard work, but that it will not last. Talk to staff regularly during and after the redundancies. You may not be able to reduce their workloads (although if you can lead by example, that helps!), but if they see that you are there for them, they will be there for you!

On the customer side, consider resource allocation (particularly for "key" customers) to avoid disruption. You may need to explain what is going on, why and what the short-term (and I stress short-term) impact will be so that they can prepare themselves. Introduce the new contact to them as soon as possible, rather than letting them find out "the hard way" (I have had a number of situations where I have had to introduce myself as the "new" contact and have had to start from scratch in rebuilding trust). They may be going through the same process, and will understand your predicament. In general, they should appreciate that you have reached out to them and will work with you to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible. They may even be in a position to assist your displaced employees with roles or referrals (and you should be ready to do the same). Alternatively, they may consider this a "danger signal" and remove business, so take care on whom you tell and how you put the message across.

You will need good legal and tax advice on your redundancies, as it is all-too easy for someone to claim discrimination and seek a higher settlement. Also, think of how you can help people to re-skill or retrain; could they be used elsewhere in the organisation? Do you know someone outside who could use them? Are you prepared to write a reference, pay for an outplacement consultant, put them in touch with a good "head-hunter"? One day, they may be in a position to decide whether you get business and will remember how you treated them!


Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Staff Cuts - The Reality

We are in one of the worst recessions for a long time (take your pick on the number of years since the last "bad one" - everyone has their ideas). The main effect that we are seeing is the number of redundancies coming through as the altar of cost-cutting is piled high with sacrifices. First to go are usually the "softer options" like strategic investments, training, contractors/consultants, sponsorship, entertainment, travel, but once these go, the next cut is headcount and associated salaries, NICs, pension and insurance contributions.

After this, what? When a firm cuts headcount (as many are being forced to do), what happens? Not only will they see a reduction in headcount, but also in:

The knowledge and experience that those made redundant used to get the job done goes with them (perhaps to a competitor). Colleagues left in the company who relied on that knowledge suddenly have it removed. Efficiency and service levels are reduced and costs increase.

Those made redundant will have networks of colleagues and outside suppliers or contractors who helped to get things done. These vital contacts will go. Again, those colleagues left will suddenly have to deal with gaps in the service proposition.

Morale amongst those left will suffer as colleagues and friends leave. Staff left will need to work harder to cover for them and will lack the knowledge/networks/experience of the departed, resulting in increased fatigue and stress. This is part of downsiing in hard times, so they need to accept it.

Customer Service will inevitably suffer as the machine has lost its efficiency. The company may be able to get it back up to speed, but do you really want dissatisfied customers in a recessionary climate, particularly if they can go to the competition?

Inevitably, these things go in cycles and the recession will come to an end. When that will be is anyone's guess, but when it happens will people then be fighting to attract new talent again? Will the "right" talent be available? What will it cost? Will the savings generated earlier be wiped out by the costs of advertising, interviewing, re-hiring, re-training and new employees getting "up to speed"? Will this prolong customer suffering before service is again at previous levels?

This is not an argument against headcount reductions - more to make sure that managers realise the impact of this action and prepare themselves and their teams for it in order to minimise potential disruption.


Friday, 6 March 2009

How Do I Market My Company?

Just been talking with a friend whom I have known since 1996 who has started her own consulting company. Dangerous, you say, in a time of budget cuts where consultants and outside contractors are the first to go. Actually, she combines several skills which, for the budget-conscious firm could actually REDUCE their costs and improve company, managerial, team and individual performance. Normally, you would hire different consultants for all this - she does it all!

She has a professional-looking website (, so the right image is there. She needs to make sure that her firm comes up at the top of the list in Google searches, etc.

What did we come up with? No rocket science (and if anyone else has any other ideas, please share). First thing I told her was to get on LinkedIn (TM) So that professionals can find her. The we started talking about whom to target, and came up with a strategy of top-down and bottom-up. Top down on the basis that if you shoot for the moon, you get the stars, and bottom-up because you have to start somewhere and you have more credibility if you can point to past successful projects (no matter how small).

We discussed sectors - she could do all: finance, industry, government, NHS, education, so not limited to one market (a major strength, in my view). Her product is also scalable, so she does not have to take on only medium to large clients. She operates from home, so low overheads meaning lower costs to clients!

She already has successful projects under her belt, so I suggested she ask if she could include them as case studies on her website (removing names if necessary to protect reputations). If this was not possible, what about asking for recommendations to post on the website? As an added incentive, she could offer to reduce the cost of services by a small amount if case studies or recommendations were forthcoming.

Another way of getting her name into the market was "pro bono" work for local governments or charities. Always helps to have the local government on side, and charities may have influential people on their board of trustees. Do the work for the charity for free, but the cost is a presentation to the trustees and being able to hand out her business card...

Local Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations were a "must", as well as making sure that her banker(s), lawyer(s) and accountant(s) also know about her in case they could generate leads.

Friends and colleagues past and present can also help - they know you best, after all. Added to this, she could mention to parents at her children's' school that she has just started up - it's amazing what the "kids' network" can produce!

As for charges, we discussed various ways of countering objections like "We don't have the budget" or "That's too expensive". If she can get her foot in the door to present, the organisation has clearly acknowledged that it needs/may need help, and should understand that this comes at a cost. What she can then do is find out what the objection is (do they want to pay less, not now, or not at all?) and then present alternatives to reduce the final bill (I mentioned the "cost" of a recommendation or case study above).

A great session, and one happy friend at the end who was determined to put what we discussed into practice. Watch this space...


The Value of Working Overseas

I was recently asked three interesting questions by an American contact looking to work overseas.

They were:

How does working overseas increase one's resume to US employers?

How much $ increase?

What does it show a company if you work overseas?

I chose to answer these in two parts on the remuneration and the resume front:

How much $ increase?:

It is difficult to put a dollar amount or percentage on the value to a company of working overseas. I would turn this around and ask the companies themselves. You will get different answers; some may not value it at all, some may put some value on it, some a lot. It all depends on their needs and markets.

A company with markets overseas will place more value on someone with overseas experience, whereas a company with purely domestic markets and suppliers will probably place little/no value on it. Think about the sort of organisations that you want to work for and find out what THEY want/value. In my search I am targeting either overseas organisations with operations in the UK, or UK companies with international operations. These are more likely to value my international experience.

Don’t forget that what most organisations pay for are the technical know-how and experience needed for the job. Working abroad may form a greater or lesser part of this, so don’t make this the be-all and end-all of your enquiries. If they do value overseas experience, find out what in particular they would look for, e.g. networks, understanding of local regs, dealing with local regulators, ability to speak the language etc and MAKE SURE YOU COVER THIS OFF when working overseas. In the end, the fact that you have overseas experience is usually viewed positively.

Remember for your return to your home country that you have to show that you have RELEVANT and UP TO DATE experience. There is always a risk that employers may feel that you are out of touch when returning to the local market, so always keep your links open, make sure you keep abreast of the markets and their needs and let people know what you are doing. It can be a kind of Catch-22 situation, but bear this in mind.

What does it show a company if you work overseas?

Again, think ahead for when you get back and ask around yourself – the answers will help you determine which organisations you work for both back in the US and overseas. If you do not know enough organisations, do a straw poll amongst your friends, but I am sure that the HR departments of your target companies could answer the question quite quickly. In my experience, it shows (for starters) that:

· You have first-hand knowledge of a (number of) overseas markets;

. You are prepared to try/learn new things (i.e. move outside your “comfort zone”);

· You have broader horizons;

· You are adaptable;

· You are more culturally sensitive;

· You can see different points of view;

· You can handle stress (moving to a new country, however, “civilised” is still stressful);

· You can work with other cultures;

. You may speak another useful language;

· You have an international network.

If you have worked overseas in a market that the company is either in or wants to get into, you will have a network of valuable contacts there (this may prove to be a deciding factor in hiring and in the compensation you get!).

Personally, my view is that we live in an increasingly global market due to cheaper travel, better communications and information flows, and easier movement across national boundaries. Everyone needs SOME appreciation of what goes on outside their country. Many of the problems faced in certain countries are a direct result of a lack of understanding of other cultures.


Banks and Taxes

We have heard a lot of hype about how banks are taking taxpayers money to cover their mistakes - impressive soundbites from politicians mainly. Just to be awkward, from 2004 - 2008, Lloyds paid £9.4billion in tax, HSBC (which has not taken any government handouts) paid c. £16billion (not only, I suspect, to the UK government, but to others as well), Barclays paid £7.2billion and RBS paid £9.4billion (source, FT Online).

Small sums, I suppose, compared with the bailouts that RBS, Lloyds and HBOS have received, but don't forget their contributions in terms of sponsorship (the Barclays Premier League, the RBS 6-Nations and sponsorship of F1 racing, HSBC and Golf, etc). The banks have poured money into sport and other community ventures, which generate spin-offs for others in the form of jobs, taxes to the government, and boosts to the local economy and enjoyment.

Oh yes, they also employed a lot of people, and paid them salaries (which were taxed), bonuses (ditto - and these were even defended by the Prime Minister in 2007as he didn't want to see his tax base eroded), the dividends on their shares were taxed, and for a while they did provide the much-needed grease for the economy. When times were good, noone complained, indeed banks were almost encouraged to lend more and were supervised less. Yes, it is bad that they now have to be saved with taxpayers money, but in the end, banks have paid tax as well as generating other taxable income which has been poured into government coffers. Let us not forget.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009


The purpose of this blog is to post ideas, thoughts, articles, tips, exchanges.

You may be wondering why the title - "Ripples". I spent almost three weeks over this as the idea was to come up with something thought-provoking and different.

If you think about what happens when you drop a stone onto the surface of a still pond, you see ripples spread out over the surface, striking objects, being reflected back on themselves, criss-crossing and so on. If you drop in a large stone, you will create major waves, which I may do from time to time. Feel free to comment or to add your own thoughts. All I ask is that they be constructive.