By Jonathan Max
Here is what is on mind; as the nonsense in parliament continues, are we merely between a rock and a hard place or to be coined 'hard Brexit'?
By Jonathan Max
I started at Lehman Brothers in 2005 in their HR team; they had been a client organisation of mine for a few years and was I extremely excited to be joining in the heady days of a raging bull market. While an industry contact had informed me of the potential role; there was the ‘standard’ interview process of seemingly meeting everyone. Did I really know what to expect or how to make the most of the opportunity? Not really is the honest answer.
I learned how to progress my career as I went along; but, in truth was more focused on being accepted and delivering in what was a culturally unique organisation. I stayed at Lehman Brothers until it reached its dénouement in 2008. After the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, I transferred to Nomura and was again part of a fascinating journey with many twists and turns along the way. The market was clearly in a very different place; the next years were a seemingly endless journey of organisational ‘Re’....Restructuring, Realignment, Repositioning, Reorganisation and so on. I left Nomura in 2017 and now reflect on what I wish someone had told me in 2005 about career development; so I have summarised as follows:
Find a mentor
My approach here was somewhat ad-hoc. I had a great relationship with my line manager and then an organisation change resulted in a different reporting line. To placate some pre-existing hostility between my former and new line manager; the safest route was to form a ‘mentoring relationship’ with my previous manager so I could still benefit from his considerable insight and advice. I developed several mentoring relationships; both within and outside the companies. A couple were more formal, the others less so but equally valuable. They were people with different backgrounds and experience who could share information and provide guidance.
Sun Microsystems undertook a body of research around its own mentoring programme, which came up with some very compelling results Mentors were promoted six times more often than those not in the programme; mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the programme. Having mentoring in your early career is obviously going to speed up progress, but according to the Harvard Business Review article on mentoring “Everyone we spoke with over age 40 could name a mentor in his or her professional life, but younger people often could not”. Therefore, to get ahead of the game and progress your career you need to think carefully about how to develop the right mentoring relationships and do this early on. Or, put another way, when you can gain practical advice and learn from the experience of others; why would you not seek mentoring relationships?
Join Networking Groups
I founded what was to become the largest employee driven network at Nomura; comprising over 750 people in the UK and beyond and holding several events every month. So why did I do this? Because I thought it would be a bit of fun and with the support of my manager and head of diversity something that would bring a bit of variety to me professionally and personally.
With this decision, I completely missed the significant benefit this would have on my career. I was able to find new ways to navigate the organisation and find the find answers I needed. I had ‘friendly’ contacts in many departments; if they couldn’t help me they would point me in the right direction. As my day-to-day work became complex and involved working across several different groups and businesses; I had the right contacts to make things easier. I’m not saying you need to form a group but being part of internal and external networking groups is absolutely essential to successful career development. This article; 10 Important Benefits of Networking is a very accurate overview of why this needs to be part of your game-plan.
Leverage the appraisal process
I don’t think I was in a group of one in my early approach to appraisals and performance management. Typically, following a number of automated reminders, I would complete the mid-year or year-end process with seconds to spare and that was that until the next reminder arrived in my inbox. Most of the completion time was spend on ‘refreshing’ myself on the objectives I had set and then trying to recall enough information to make a decent attempt at well considered response.
My advice here is embrace the appraisal process to your advantage as I started to do after realising how I could benefit from a more structured approach; how you evidence your achievements is just as important as how you determine your goals and where to focus your skills. Contrary to popular myth, a sense of entitlement on how your career should progress doesn’t work! What is truer is that management talk and discuss people; so make sure you are in the group of people that gets discussed for the right reasons and opportunities will come your way. Even if the traditional annual performance appraisal process is giving way to more frequent conversations between a manager and subordinate; make sure you are ready to have discussions about your future.
Know your Industry
Earlier on in my career, I was too focused on my immediate environment and in trying to deliver day-to-day. Therefore, my perspectives were too internalised, and I wasn’t able to draw on external sources for new or alternative perspectives. I started to change this; attending industry events; reading and learning to increase my understating of the industry and how different elements knitted together.
What I didn’t realise immediately, is that managers are having to demonstrate this very thing to their superiors and don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to get into all the detail. Making yourself a ‘go-to person’ for information enhances your personal brand and with that you get to get involved in more interesting projects and assignments and hence career development is a beneficial consequence.
As Abraham Lincoln said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it.", that’s not something you can leave for someone else to do if you want to progress your career.
By Andy Milner
An interesting read from TheCityUK, which highlights the lack of diversity and need for more FinTech skills as being key challenges across FS.
Financial Services Skills Taskforce - Interim report | TheCityUK
By Colin Ng
Continuing with our thinking of CMU & the future of EU Supervision, it’s apparent the creation of a Single Capital Market, brings with it a need to have a single set of rules to govern it. Early last year ESMA launched an Interactive Single Rule Book for the securities market to help market participants understand the Level 1, 2 and 3 rules laid out in order to facilitate consistency in application across the member states.
However, this is not as straightforward as it looks. Whilst a single rule book for all member states is important (and the ESMA will ‘watch’ over it), the EU still has to recognise that a certain degree of national independence is afforded to the member states and its supervisory authority/ies as well.
We observed over the recent years that there has been a steady concentration of power at the ESMA, with some parties crying ‘land grab’ by the EU as a result of the UK’s imminent exit from the bloc. This may also be in part borne out of the growing call from the Commission for ESMA to play a stronger role in enhancing convergence. In a nutshell, this is the convergence dilemma: How much is too much centralisation / concentration?
What does it mean for investors, businesses and the asset management industry?
Historically, retail investors & businesses in the EU have preferred safer investments, i.e. more willing to invest within their national borders and in debt than in equity for fear of less certain returns.
A key objective of the CMU is to increase the range and choice of investments available to investors and businesses. And this is where we see the asset management industry can play a key role.
Armed with years of cross-border investing experience and management expertise, asset managers are able to assume the position as the ‘gel’ that brings together the interest of investors, businesses and new investment opportunities offered by the wider financial markets.
From an investor perspective, by making it easier for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to raise capital on public markets, they have a wider range of investments to choose from leading to a potentially better diversified portfolio. However, these less established firms do come with a higher risk (and also higher expected returns) so acceptance and general take-up will take time.
For SME businesses, this is good news as the ‘promised land’ of public market capital may no longer be a thing for the distant future but something that can be seriously considered in the short to medium term. Having said that, businesses still have to weigh up the pros and cons as high listing fees and initial low take-up may still be deterrents.
CMU proposals are also opening up more avenues for SMEs and infrastructure projects to secure financing through pan European crowd funding platforms and cross-border business angel networks.
What does it mean for product development?
The CMU proposals and legislations to date have offered up new financing avenues and investment opportunities, with the addition of new products, fund vehicles and investment strategies, all geared towards the vision for a border-less capital market in the EU.
The European Long Term Investment Fund (ELTIF) Regulation, which came into force in 2015, created a new AIF cross-border fund vehicle that enables asset managers to offer investment opportunities in SME capital, infrastructure projects and real estate projects within the EU. They essentially have been created to raise funds to channel towards public projects and smaller businesses which historically have had less luck with raising capital.
Having said that, ELTIFs generally offer fewer liquid assets (hence higher returns and more diversification) but is another example of how the CMU have created different investment strategies.
Another important theme arising from the CMU proposals is the alignment with improving the market’s understanding of environmental, social and governance related risks and returns (responsible investing). It seeks to provide opportunities to connect capital with greener and sustainable infrastructure projects and SME businesses.
Another important measure from the CMU proposals is to promote retail savings and investment through capital markets via the creation of a pan-European Personal Pension Product (PEPP).
The introduction of PEPP has increased choice for retirement savings and builds an EU market for personal private pensions which pension providers could opt for when offering private pensions across the EU. Importantly also, it helps to channel EU savings to much needed long-term infrastructure investments.
Four years on, we observe that take-up has been relatively low with only a couple of Italian fund houses having set them up (Muzinich & Cordusio SIM, and Eurizon). The right incentives have to be looked at, and there is still work to be done to local level tax laws to remove any cross-border obstacles. Also, consideration needs to be given towards a more suitably calibrated calculation of the regulatory capital that institutional investors should hold against infrastructure investments.
With new products and investment strategies, comes the need for enhanced promotion of financial education and setting up a market infrastructure to improve financial regulation and market efficiency. Though take-up is relatively low at the moment with ELTIFs and PEPP, we see this is as expected as it requires a cultural shift. Rome was not built in a day.
What does this all mean and what is left to do?
Careful expectation management is important here. The Juncker Plan is ambitious, and the CMU is not any different. Capital markets are still fairly diverse and for all EU28 states (maybe 27 in a few months) to fully embrace the changes and lower their national barriers, less political hustling and more results need to surface (which also begs the question of how we can concretely measure its success). All member states need to accelerate discussions of the remaining proposals with a common goal in mind; much-needed lasting reform of the European financial markets.
The recent European elections will bring a new Parliament into Brussels. It remains to be seen what future impact this new Parliament will have on the outstanding CMU work. However, with economic short-termism, nationalism and populist politics on the rise in recent years, now is the time more than ever for initiatives such as the CMU to deepen the unity of the EU.
This article originally appeared on the AlgoMe Consulting web site
Authored by Colin Ng and Pierre-Yves Rahari
By Pierre-Yves Rahari
Juncker once famously said “Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians”.
Since taking up office in 2014, his Commission has been addressing exactly that: Remove obstacles for sustained improvement to the economy which will benefit the European people, regardless of where they are located. This is embodied in Juncker’s ambitious Investment Plan for Europe.
Five years on from the conception of Juncker’s Plan, it has been reported that EU GDP is up by 0. 6%, it is set to create 1.4 million jobs by 2020 and has helped to mobilise billions in private investment for the public good (exceeding original target of €315 billion).
These are not modest statistics – Juncker’s Plan is showing results and have laid down the foundations for further growth in the future. But there is still much to do.
A key ingredient in Juncker’s Plan is the Capital Markets Union (CMU). Since 2014, EU press have been dominated by a blizzard of challenging news; the monumental bailout of the Greek economy, a migration crisis and more recently, the UK’s Brexit referendum result so it is no wonder the CMU has had modest publicity to date. But it is an important Single Market project and one of the key pillars of Juncker’s Plan.
Essentially, the CMU’s key objective is to improve the free flow of investment all across Europe by providing the infrastructure to encourage people and companies to look across their national borders for investment opportunities and capital to benefit its people, businesses and infrastructure.
The CMU & the future of EU Supervision
Refreshingly, the CMU is not another stand-alone piece of regulation or legislation that adds to the mounting compliance burden that most European firms are already grappling with. Instead, the CMU is an umbrella for 23 separate but complementary proposals; a few of which have been adopted into legislation so far.
In its essence, most of the proposals formed under the CMU umbrella is to move the European economy in one direction; To rejuvenate investments and deepen its integration by harmonising national regulation, legislation and supervision, and breaking down obstacles to cross-border investments.
As with any growth programmes, ensuring that proper safeguards are in place is crucial to ensure lasting and sustained results, whilst protecting all parties involved. To be fair, major European regulations introduced in recent years such as MiFID II (and also those about to be enforced e.g. PRIIPS) are playing a part in this vision for Europe by enhancing investor protection, increasing transparency and improving market efficiency to bring the confidence back into the European investments market. Though it may seem that the list of new regulation is ever increasing, we see that the themes and ambition are very much aligned.
With respect to supervision, removing national obstacles to cross-border investment and flow of money has accelerated the call for supervisory and regulatory convergence in the EU. This is particularly important in the area of funds distribution to encourage more cross border investments and support the creation of a Single Capital Market.
Perhaps, another argument for more commonality in supervisory principles, outcomes and culture is that one must also consider that breaking down national barriers may come with risks to the financial stability of the bloc. National crises will no longer be contained in the scenario of a true Single Market; the European Union will truly be operating as one. Enhanced convergence in supervision will help to address this new systemic risk and has been a strategic priority of the CMU proposals.
This article originally appeared on the AlgoMe Consulting web site.
Authored by @Pierre-YvesRahari and @ColinNg