MANAGEMENT is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; LEADERSHIP determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall - Stephen Covey

Friday, October 28, 2005

Best of Dilbert!

Change is good. You go first.

Accept that some days you are the pigeon and some days the statue.

Feedback is a business term which refers to the joy of criticizing other people's work. This is one of the few genuine pleasures of the job, and you should milk it for all it's worth.

Consultants have credibility because they are not dumb enough to work at your company.

If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day. But if you teach a man to fish he will buy an ugly hat. And if you talk about fish to a starving man then you are a consultant.

If you spend all of your time arguing with people who are nuts, you'll be exhausted and the nuts will still be nuts.

Managers are like cats in a litter box. They instinctively shuffle things around to conceal what they've done.

Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level.

One way to compensate for a tiny brain is to pretend to be dead.

People who work in accounting departments often work 12 hour days creating reports that nobody cares about. This gives them a very bad attitude. Do not attempt humor around them.

Stupidity is like nuclear power; it can be used for good or evil.

The best things in life are silly.

There are two essential rules to management. One, the customer is always right; and two, they must be punished for their arrogance.

We're a planet of nearly six billion ninnies living in a civilization that was designed by a few thousand amazingly smart deviants.

Your brain is like your stomach in the sense that if it's empty, you're willing to put anything in there to fill it up.

Work is for losers. A winner says 'That's on my list' and never commits to a deadline.

You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Bird Flu & Business!

Businesses have been urged to prepare for a potential outbreak of bird flu by reviewing and updating their crisis management and continuity plans before it is too late. IT analysts Gartner also advised organisations to ensure that their organisations plan from the boardroom down through basic operations for a possible pandemic whose course and consequences could potentially prove to be catastrophic.
According to the World Health Organisation, if an avian flu pandemic breaks out, the scale of infection might be considerably greater than it was with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which infected 8,096 people and killed 774 in 2003. The 2003 SARS outbreak suggests that a pandemic would effect international and local travel, supply chains, health systems, personnel and schools. It would also have direct economic impact on most industries, but particularly travel, tourism and hospitality.
Does your organization have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) in place?

Emerging offshore destinations??!!

Philippines - The combination of rock-bottom costs and a desirable labor pool is helping to propel the country to prominence as an offshoring location. But research by the McKinsey Global Institute indicates that a poor risk profile, a deficient infrastructure, and a subpar business environment conspire to hinder the country's offshoring prospects. Public- and private-sector leaders must work together to bolster the country's attractiveness to multinational companies.
Morocco - Urgently needs to broaden its industrial base to deal with slowing growth and a rising trade deficit. A study found that the offshoring of services by French- and Spanish-speaking companies could help. Morocco offers a large pool of relatively cheap and well-qualified French and Spanish speakers and a good telecommunications infrastructure. Morocco should begin by establishing economic zones to host the offshoring of business processes and IT operations and by attracting a handful of multinationals to the country.
Your thoughts??

Gripe Sheet @ Quantas!

After every flight, Quantas pilots fill out a form, called a "gripe sheet," which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems; document their repairs on the form, & then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight. Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Quantas' pilots & the solutions recorded by maintenance engineers. By the way, Quantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.

(P = The problem logged by the pilot.)
(S = The solution and action taken by mechanics.)

a) P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.
S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

b) P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.
S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft

c) P: Something loose in cockpit.
S: Something tightened in cockpit.

d) P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

e) P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
S: Evidence removed.

f) P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.

g) P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
S: That's what they're for.

h) P: IFF inoperative.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

i) P: Suspected crack in windshield.
S: Suspect you're right.

j) P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

k) P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, & be serious.

l) P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.

m) P: Mouse in cockpit.
S: Cat installed.

n) P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget
See......"As you sow, so you reap!"

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Governance & Family Owned Business

For the family-owned business, good governance makes all the difference. Family firms with effective governance practices are more likely to carry out strategic and succession planning. On average, they grow faster and live longer. Professor John L Ward, cited in Sir Adrian Cadbury, Family Firms and Their Governance, has outlined the following characteristics for family owned firms:
They account for 95% of registered companies in India, Latin America, East Asia and the Middle East.
Family relationships have to be managed in addition to business relationships.
Special requirements to manage growth:
a) Picking and promoting the right members of the family;
b) Providing attractive opportunities to managers from outside the family;
c) Demonstrable even-handedness in training, promoting, compensation and benefits.
Formal structure:
If family firms are to manage growth successfully, they have to adopt a clear organizational structure which would include:
a) An effective board concentrating on policy and strategy (outside directors are useful in asking the right questions)
b) A logical management with clear lines of authority and responsibility.
Keys to Success:
a) A clear and understood structure separating governance of the firm and affairs of the family;
b) An effective board with competent, independent, outside directors;
c) Logical structure of the firm with clear chain of command and decision-making process;
d) Recruitment, promotion and compensation policies must be written and respected.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Brick-to-Click banks!

Today, most large national banks, many regional banks and even smaller banks and credit unions offer some form of online banking, variously known as PC banking, home banking, electronic banking or Internet banking. Those that do are sometimes referred to as "brick-to-click" banks, both to distinguish them from brick-and-mortar banks that have yet to offer online banking, as well as from online or "virtual" banks that have no physical branches or tellers whatsoever.

The challenge for the banking industry has been to design this new service channel in such a way that its customers will readily learn to use and trust it. After all, banks have spent generations earning our trust; they aren't about to risk that on a Web site that is frustrating, confusing or less than secure.

Most of the large banks now offer fully secure, fully functional online banking for free or for a small fee. Some smaller banks offer limited access or functionality; for instance, you may be able to view your account balance and history but not initiate transactions online. As more banks succeed online and more customers use their sites, fully functional online banking likely will become as commonplace as automated teller machines. Am gladly looking forward to that day.....Happy Banking!

A Look into Banking Trends for 2006

For over a couple decades, IT has been an integral part of a financial institution's competitive advantage. Throughout the 1990s, efficiency and cost-cutting were the primary objectives of IT. Thanks to relatively strong performance during the economic downturn, banks have been able to increasingly apply a strategic approach to their IT decisioning process. Consequently, in the IT ROI equation, revenue enhancement will be gaining equal weight to cost-cutting.
The Branch Renaissance Continues:
More banks are recognizing that the branch is still the cornerstone of retail banking. As banks focus their efforts on growing revenues through sales of more complex higher-margin services and products, they are finding that the branch is the most effective delivery channel. The direct personal interaction provided at the branch creates the best environment for selling these products.
Multi-channel Integration Is Moving off the Drawing Board:
Multi-channel integration is garnering the attention of a growing number of banks. Although it is far from becoming a mainstream exercise, it is moving away from the early-adopter phase to being a feasible initiative for most banks to undertake. The question is not if but when.
Improvements in Internet Banking Will Forge Ahead :
Banks are increasingly convinced that Internet banking's ROI can extend beyond simple cost-to-serve equations and direct revenue models. Driven by enhancements in Internet banking's user-friendliness, Internet banking's ROI now encompasses generating revenues indirectly by improving customer satisfaction with Internet banking, which in turn, has proven to translate into greater customer retention and higher balances.
Automation of the Loan Process Will Expand:
As interest rates inch up, banks are scrambling to develop marketing and IT strategies geared towards maintaining strong growth in originations. Next-generation solutions will provide users with greater work process automation capabilities and better integration with third parties, thereby eliminating many of the manual processes still in place today.
Small Business Need Not Be the Underserved:
Until recently, small businesses have been chronically underserved by banks. The classic example is the application of a retail Internet banking solution to serve these businesses, which has been the leading cause of low adoption to date. Banks, however, are increasingly recognizing they could garner a larger share of small businesses' financial services spending if they implement appropriate technology.
Cash Management Will Jump on the Browser Bandwagon:
While most banks already have large corporate banking solutions in place, a large number of transactions are still being completed on Windows-based solutions. Many banks have announced plans to migrate all of their customers over to browser-based solutions now that full functionality is available through this channel.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Weak Form Efficiency & Markets

One of the different degrees of efficient market hypothesis (EMH) that claims all past prices of a stock are reflected in today's stock price. Therefore, technical analysis cannot be used to predict and beat a market. Theoretical in nature, weak form efficiency advocates assert that fundamental analysis can be used to identify stocks that are undervalued and overvalued. Therefore, keen investors looking for profitable companies can earn profits by researching financial statements.

R&D spending does not deliver profits

Recently, I read an article published in a leading financial journal which mentioned that companies which invest heavily in research and development may be wasting their money and according to a new study of the world's top 1,000 corporate R&D spenders, it was established that there was no direct relationship between R&D investment and significant measures of corporate performance such as growth, profitability, and shareholder return. Well, then should I say why the heck corporations have significant budgets for R&D if they are gonna behave like charities!!!???

Monday, October 17, 2005

Whisper Numbers?

During earnings season - the time when companies publicly report their results from the last quarter - many whisper numbers canbe heard floating around Wall Street and on the internet. It can be a period of extreme stock market volatility; the companies that don't meet earnings estimates are usually hammered hard and experience a decline in share price. However, even companies that meet earnings estimates can suffer if they don't match the seemingly mysterious whisper number. What are whisper numbers? Where do they come from? And what do they mean to you as an investor?
While the consensus estimate tends to be widely available, whispers are the unofficial and unpublished earnings-per-share (EPS) forecasts that circulate among employees, professionals and other investors on Wall Street. Traditionally, they were meant for the wealthy clients of top brokerages, but with the advent of the internet, whispers have become much less of a secret and many websites now supply them to individual investors. Because differences between actual earnings results and consensus estimates can have significant effects on a stock’s price, whisper numbers can be useful when they differ from the consensus forecast.
If you do decide to invest based on a whisper, keep in mind that whisper numbers are essentially just rumors. Sometimes a whisper number ends up being more accurate than a consensus estimate, but the odds that a whisper number will lead to a successful investment is probably not much greater than if you had chosen the number at random. And if you are a long-term investor, it is especially important to keep whisper numbers in perspective. So if you hear a whisper number that gives you pause, just remember that using it to guide your investment decisions is a risk, even if there is the potential to benefit.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

iPod Nano

The new iPod packs music, audiobooks, podcasts, photos, video, contacts, calendars, games, clocks and locks in a design up to 45 percent slimmer than the original iPod. Click on the below link to know more about Apple's new iPod Nano
Happy iPodding!

Universal Currency Converter

Click on this link below to access a site dedicated to currency conversion

Happy Conversion!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Convergence in Corporate Banking

If there is one thing that typifies today’s world of commerce, it is definitely the unceasing pursuit of advantages of synergy. We have seen this trend at various levels – from like minded nations coming together to form a union, to corporate giants joining hands through mergers and finally to industrial verticals reorganizing themselves to make the whole greater than sum of the parts. Corporate banking is no different when it comes to exploiting synergy through convergence and it is this change in its working that at once provides tremendous opportunities on the one hand as well as poses interesting challenges on the other.
Corporate Banking – from then to now
If we just focus on the Transactional Services that form a part of Corporate banking, it is obvious that it has undergone an amazing level of transformation in terms of complexity. In the early days, Cash, Trade and Treasury operations were largely transactional silos with specific purposes. Each had a role to play and did just that in isolation.

Then 4 important developments took place:
a) The Information Age came along and brought with it certain demands that businesses organized as above simply could not meet.
b) Working Capital Management requirements of corporates grew exponentially
c) Technology, often the laggard, started coming of age and provided an opportunity to businesses looking for a catalyst to drive their reorganization needs. Drop in communication infrastructure costs and creation of standards are cases in point.
d) Changes in the banking domain.
What do u think the new world of Corporate Banking would be?

Sound auditing benefits shareholders

Audit quality is vital to the proper functioning of the market economy. Scrupulous adherence to high standards of disclosure and strict compliance with legal requirements are essential to the protection of shareholder interests and promotion of investor confidence. It is the auditors who ensure that the financial statements comply with established accounting and disclosure standards. The auditor's opinion enhances the credibility of financial information, thus helping management, shareholders and other relevant stakeholders to make sound decisions. Failure by auditors to report accounting manipulations or non-compliance can lead, not only to individual bankruptcies, but also to overall loss in investment confidence.
As national economies become more closely linked across the globe, the importance of reliable and transparent financial statements in accordance with uniform international standards is becoming increasingly apparent. Audits can therefore be more useful to investors if the auditor follows the practices set out by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and if financial statements are prepared according to the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) principles or other national accounting body of a country.
To summarize, as a general rule: -
i) Audits should be conducted by a qualified and independent auditor;
ii) Auditors should understand & comprehend the business environment & tailor their programs to suit the business requirements.
iii) Principle of materiality should'nt make the audit immaterial / irrelevant.
iv) Auditors should alert accounting and auditing standard setters about emerging techniques of dubious propriety;
v) National professional accounting bodies should ensure that their members, as auditors of financial statements, comply with applicable professional standards.
vi) Ethics Ethics & Ethics - Auditors should be more catholic than the pope!

Business benefits of good information security

Managing Information Security is often viewed as a headache by management. It is often perceived as adding costs to a business by focusing on "negatives" - i.e what might go wrong. However, there are many potential business benefits from getting information system security right: to name a few for example:

a) If systems are more up-to-date and secure - they are also more likely to be accurate and efficient

b) Security can be used to "differentiate" a business – it helps build confidence with customers and suppliers

c) Better information systems can increase the capacity of a business. For example, adding secureonline ordering to a web site can boost sales enabling customers to buy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

d) By managing risk more effectively – a business can cut down on losses and potential legal liabilities

One must understand that Information and information systems need to be controlled and a key aspect of control is that an information system should be secure.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Finland is the most competitive economy in the world!

Finland is the most competitive economy in the world, topping the rankings for the third consecutive year in World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report. The US is in second position, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Taiwan and Singapore. Iceland at seventh and Norway at ninth completed what the WEF termed the "stellar performance" of the Nordic countries. Australia ranked in 10th place and Japan 12th, followed by the UK, Canada and Germany.
"The Nordic countries share a number of characteristics that make them extremely competitive, such as very healthy macroeconomic environments and public institutions that are highly transparent and efficient," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist and Director of the Forum's Global Competitiveness Programme.
"While the business communities in the Nordic countries point to high tax rates as a potential problem area, there is no evidence that these are adversely affecting the ability of these countries to compete effectively in world markets, or to provide to their respective populations some of the highest standards of living in the world."
"Indeed, the high levels of government tax revenue have delivered world-class educational establishments, an extensive safety net, and a highly motivated and skilled labour force." The United States, as last year, ranked second. The WEF said that while it demonstrates overall technological supremacy, with a very powerful culture of innovation, this is partly offset by a weaker performance in other areas measured by the index. But the greatest weakness identified in the US concerns the health of its macroeconomic environment, where it ranks a low 47th overall.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Confucious & Credit!

I read this lovely quote by 'Confucious' at a shop here in Hong Kong and it goes like this....

U ask Credit
I no Give
U get Mad
I give Credit
U no Pay
I get Mad
Better U get Mad!

So true right?

Dream Job!

Wanted to share a joke that I read at a business journal a few days it goes.......
Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked the young programmer, "And what starting salary were you looking for?" The programmer said, "In the neighborhood of $75,000 a year, dependingon the benefit's package."
The HR Person said, "Well, what would you say to a package of 5-weeksvacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matchingretirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years- say, a red Corvette?"The programmer sat up straight and said, "Wow!!! Are you kidding?"
And the HR Person said, "Certainly, ...but you started it."
Now, the point is....How many of us think like this??? Are we heading for an Utopian adventure or somethin of this kind is actually possible??

Did u know about Clientele Effect?

Clientele Effect is where a company's stock price will move according to the demands and goals of investors in reaction to a tax, dividend or other policy change affecting the company. The clientele effect assumes that investors are attracted to different company policies, and that when a company's policy changes, investors will adjust their stock holdings accordingly. As a result of this adjustment, the stock price will move.

Consider a company that currently pays a high dividend and has attracted clientele whose investment goal is to obtain stock with a high dividend payout. If the company decides to decrease its dividend, these investors will sell their stock and move to another company that pays a higher dividend. As a result, the company's share price will decline. So, maybe before u perform a stock-pick next time, be aware of the "Clientele effect" theory and pick your stocks with caution. That being said, I always believe that u cant beat the markets by being a 'Theoretical Financial Wizard'.....U CAN beat the market only by understanding the MARKET SENTIMENT and making THAT VERY SENTIMENT work for u...Good luck & happy investing!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Buffalo, Geese and Leadership

I read this article on a website & found it very thought goes like this...
"The dictionary defines leadership as 'taking others to places they would not normally go.' I prefer to define leadership on a more personal basis: the taking of ourselves to places we would not normally go. Leadership does not need to mean being the boss. Leadership also can mean how well we leverage our functional responsibility as a professional.
That brings us to the buffalo and the goose.
Buffalo travel in herds and there is one leader. What happens when the lead buffalo is eliminated? The herd is in disarray and falls easy prey to its assailants, as you may remember from the movie "Dances With Wolves." However, geese travel in formation and rotate the leadership. That is the point; we all are leaders of our functional responsibility and therefore, need skills not typically developed by our formal training. Incidentally, what would be another term for the formation geese fly in? How about "t-e-a-m?" Geese flying in formation are 71 percent more efficient than when flying solo! We need the skills to be solid team players."
I really hope that u guys found the above article thought provoking too.....any thoughts?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quotes to ponder by Albert Einstein

Here are some of my favo quotes by none other than the great Albert Einstein. Jus thought I'd share it with u...indeed quite a bit to ponder.....
a) The only way to escape the corruption of praise is to go on working...There is nothing else.
b) I never worry about the future. It comes soon enough.
c) If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.
d) There is only one road to true human greatness: through the school of hard knocks.
e) Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
f) Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.
g) Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.
h) Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited; imagination encircles the world.
I especially love the first and last one! Pour in ur comments and lemme know what u feel.

Apology...Is it from the heart?

I recently read an article about how leaders apologize in the media for their so-called wrong doings or maybe to bring about a different presepctive in the eyes of the mass....(maybe not the class!) but i do believe that it takes great guts for leaders (politicians, business leaders and other noble beings) to come up the stage & apologize to the world at large. That reminds me of a Stephen Covey quote "It takes a great deal of character strength to apologize quickly out of one's heart rather than out of pity. A person must possess himself and have a deep sense of security in fundamental principles and values in order to genuinely apologize." I definitely CANNOT disagree with Stephen Covey and I truly believe that one must seek first to understand, then to be understood!

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