Business 09 Sep 2019

ybbrio holding uk

Since 2018, YBBRIO UK has been helping ordinary people achieve their financial independence.We are not a bank, nor a broker. We are a financial services, investment fund, venture capital and development and financial collateral leasing management company in accordance with UK law, registered company number: 11711995.• Activities of financial services holding companies (64205)• Activities of investment trusts (64301)• Activities of venture and capital development (64303)• Financial leasing (64910)

Business 08 Mar 2019

market viewpoints: a g-2 world beckons

By: Manish SinghCrossbridge Capital LLP Chimerica: A G-2 world beckons The Chinese economy of today is a far cry from the days of Chairman Mao Zedong and the “Great Leap Forward” – his second Five Year Plan which lasted from 1958 to 1963 – and proved a complete disaster for China. It left millions of people dead and many more miserable for decades to come. Frank Dikötter a Dutch historian in his excellent book – “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962–1976” – has painstakingly gone through the Chinese Communist Party’s own record and declassified letters of complaint, secret police reports, statistics, surveys and other archived papers, to draw the picture of misery that China was in the 1960s. By Dikötter’s count, the Cultural Revolution – formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution from 1966 until 1976 – left 45 million dead as Mao forced peasants off their land on to co-operative farms and mindless industrial projects. Mao wanted to lift Chinese steel production by putting the whole nation to work at over 600,000 backyard blast furnaces. Instead, he got famine and tens of millions dead. Mao had been warned by then Soviet Union leader, Nikita Khrushchev, that China’s course to industrialisation risked a famine. Khrushchev knew it from his own knowledge of Josef Stalin’s reckless ambition for industrial power that unleashed a famine in Russia in 1932-33 and killed up to five million in Ukraine, a country land rich and fertile for agriculture. Today however, China is the world’s second-largest economy using its wealth to build “colonies” around the world and the only real challenger to US hegemony. This miraculous turnaround achieved in just over 40 years – beginning with the “reform and opening up” of China in 1979 – has led to multiple years of double-digit growth (see chart below). At a time when American prestige is fading and China’s status is rising and as the US and China work to find a mutually acceptable trade deal and negotiate as equals, it is difficult to imagine how unequal the two nations were in 1979 – the year of the big reforms in China – let alone in 1949 when Mao established the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In 1979 China’s GDP stood at $178bn and was 6% of US GDP. Today, China’s GDP is 63% of US GDP ( chart below). The history of US-China relations is a fascinating read and China has gone from being a pariah state to the US in 1949 to its most important trade relationship in the world. So much so that we are heading into a G-2 world where China and the US will make rules for the rest of the world to follow. Europe is the big loser in all this and only has itself to blame – no structural reforms, low growth, high unemployment and an over-reliance on exports and not domestic demand. Feb. 28th, 2018.

Business 19 Feb 2019

going global

FOUR speaks to Dr. Juerg Steffen, the CEO of the Henley & Partners Group, about the ins and outs of residence and citizenship planning – and how Henley & Partners became the global leaders in this field. Can you tell us a bit about your background, and how you got into your current role?My background is in private banking, with more than 25 years’ experience in this area. I hold a PhD degree in Law and have served as a director of leading private banks in Switzerland and Austria. After joining Henley & Partners, I built up the South East Asia region and worked as Group Chief Operating Officer for a number of years. Now I am delighted to step into my new role as the firm’s CEO. What exactly are the services that Henley & Partners offers, for those that don’t know about the company?We broadly offer two services.We are the industry leader in residence and citizenship planning, providing our clients with an A–Z service that includes real estate acquisition and property management. Alongside our private client business, we are also the preeminent advisor to sovereign states as regards the design and operational development of investment migration programs. Our government advisory practice has raised more than USD 8 billion in foreign direct investment for countries around the world.Because we have been involved in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs, we understand the application processes for different programs on a very deep level — including the stringent due diligence procedures. For all these reasons, we are extremely well positioned to serve those interested in residence- and citizenship-by-investment, and to advise any sovereign state considering adding an investment migration option to its foreign direct investment strategy. What do you think has led to the increase in high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) in recent years?There are an estimated 18.2 million high-net-worth individuals on the planet, and their collective wealth now sits at over USD 70 trillion. These remarkable numbers are expected to grow continually over the coming years. There are a number of potential reasons for this increase, including the fact that HNWIs are now found all over the world, whereas previously, wealth was concentrated in western markets and in countries of so-called ‘old money’. The rise of emerging markets in the Far East and Middle East, as well as in South America, has created a new class of HNWIs and led to a global increase in wealth. How and why does this affect wealth migration?The majority of millionaires relocate via dual citizenship, work transfers, spousal and family visas, as they have always done. However, the emergence of residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs over the past decade is having a growing impact on global wealth migration trends. Investment migration differs from other forms of migration in that individuals are required to make a significant economic contribution to the host country before they are admitted, as a sort of upfront demonstration of their commitment to the country’s prosperity and wellbeing. In exchange for this extraordinary contribution, individuals obtain either residence or citizenship rights in that country, as the case may be.Because these programs represent such a clear ‘win–win’ both for the countries administering them and for the individuals participating in them, their popularity is growing dramatically, and we expect this to continue. What are the effects of investment migration?Offering citizenship in return for investment is mutually beneficial for both successful applicants and the destination countries they choose. The inflows of funds from citizenship programs are considerable, and the macroeconomic implications for most sectors can be extensive. For receiving countries, wealth migration is a sustainable form of foreign direct investment. Just like traditional foreign direct investment, wealth migration increases the value of the receiving state, bringing in capital to both the public sector — in the form of donations to the government, tax payments, or treasury bond investments — and the private sector — in the form of investments in businesses, start-ups, or real estate.For HNWIs, a second or third passport grants holders the right to travel, trade, and settle in an expanded set of countries and regions, as well as access to all the benefits enjoyed by other citizens of the state in question (education, health care, voting rights, and so on). It also eliminates a great deal of the inconvenience and waiting time surrounding visa applications and passport renewal or replacement processes. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an additional passport can quite literally save a person’s life in times of political unrest, civil war, and terrorism, or in other delicate political situations. Where do you see most of the HNWIs moving from and migrating to? – And why?For the third year running, Australia has been the most attractive migration destination for high-net-worth individuals: about 10,000 millionaires migrated there last year, mostly from China, India, and the UK. Experts have proposed a range of reasons for this, including lifestyle opportunities, political stability, proximity to Asian business markets, and relative safety for women.After Australia, the US, Canada, and the UAE continue to attract significant numbers of HNWIs, while Malta, Cyprus, Portugal, and Spain are also seen as highly appealing destinations for wealthy individuals in search of increased freedom and mobility. How great is the number of individuals who gain citizenship in a country through financial investment, but do not reside there? And how does this affect global wealth trends?The specific details about where HNWIs choose to reside and for how long is not information that is publicly available. However, it is safe to assume that beneficiaries of citizenship-by-investment are global citizens who often have multiple places of residence and do not see themselves as being tied to a single jurisdiction. It is also important to remember that the number of residence-by-investment programs far outstrips the number of citizenship-by-investment programs. What’s next or what do you predict for future wealth trends?Global citizenship is now an indispensable asset for wealthy individuals seeking to grow their business and increase opportunities for their family in today’s entirely globalized economy. In 2018, more than a third of global ultra-high-net-worth individuals hold an alternative passport, and another 29% are planning to obtain one.In general, we anticipate that overall demand for a second passport among wealthy individuals will continue to increase in 2019. More specifically, countries with residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs now account for about one in five wealthy individual migrations, and the ever-growing popularity of these programs indicates that they will continue to shape overall wealth migration trends.We also believe this demand will be met by increased supply. Sovereign states around the world are seeing the strategic value of investment migration over and above a non-debt baring liquidity injection. Many sovereign states understand that investment migration programs act as a remarkably successful FDI marketing platform that can attract capital and skills to an economy, thereby creating opportunity for all citizens. Want to know more? Head to Henley & Partners to read up further about their services.

Business 14 Feb 2019

deal, no deal or second referendum?

Deal, No Deal or Second referendum? Aricle By:Manish Singh, CFAChief Investment OfficerCrossbridge Capital LLPJanuary, 21th, 2019.Last week, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer the head of the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in Germany and the likely next Chancellor, as well as over two dozen other German luminaries from the fields of politics, art, industry and sport issued a plea to the UK to change its mind and stay in the European Union (EU). The letter published in The Times of London marks a significant shift in Berlin’s tone. It talks about the role of Britain – “we realise that the freedom we enjoy as Europeans today has in many ways been built and defended by the British people” and its continued importance to Europe’s future – “Without your great nation, this continent would not be what it is today: a community defined by freedom and prosperity.” And goes on to implore –“We would miss Britain as part of the European Union, especially in these troubled times. Therefore, Britons should know: from the bottom of our hearts, we want them to stay.”A bit too late in the day, I’d say. Where were these good people before the referendum in 2016? That was the time for the esteemed leaders of the EU to give then UK Prime Minister David Cameron a worthy deal that he could sell to the British people. Instead, they gave him a bag of crisp hot Brussels air which Cameron tried to present to the British voters as a “great win,” and was repudiated. The realisation is dawning on many in the EU that a No Deal Brexit would hit the EU very hard and is therefore an undesirable outcome.  After hoping and wrongly presuming that the UK would cancel Brexit (a ludicrous thought that only highlights the gulf in understanding between the UK and the Continent), it is only now – after being convinced of the likelihood of collateral damage in its own country – that Germany is taking a more conciliatory approach. The realisation is finally dawning on many in Europe that a No Deal Brexit would hit the EU very hard and is therefore an undesirable outcome.Anyone with any interest in Germany and the EU and where they’re headed, would be well served to read the masterful analysis of the topic in the book Berlin Rules: Europe and the German Way. It is written by Sir Paul Lever, former British Ambassador to Germany and a senior member of the European Commission in Brussels who attended all European Council meetings from February 1979-85. In its institutional form, he suggests that the EU looks and “will continue to look like Germany” and that its “leadership of the EU is geared principally to the defence of German national interests.” His conclusion is that Germany will prevent the creation of the “all-powerful European super-state that ” and in 20 years’ time many (Brits) will have forgotten Britain was ever a member of the EU to make them regret their choice” and “others… may wonder what all the fuss was about.” I recommend the book highly.Last week also saw UK Prime Minister Theresa May suffer the largest parliamentary defeat in British political history, as the House of Commons rejected her Deal on Europe by 432 to 202 votes. By any yardstick, the defeat that May suffered is entirely of her own making. Tin-eared, distant, and reticent don’t even begin to define the approach she took to agreeing a “Withdrawal Agreement” with an intransigent EU. May couldn’t persuade a starving man to eat with the approach she has taken thus far. Tories must fear a terrible drubbing at the elections, if May continues as PM. Thankfully, she has promised she won’t lead the Tories into the next election. So, what’s next?To those who say “No Deal” is off the table or Brexit could be cancelled, I say this – No deal is not “on the table” but it is in the Statute Books. The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 was passed through both Houses of Parliament and became law by Royal Assent on 26 June 2018. 498 of 650 MPs voted to trigger Article 50 i.e. a clear and overwhelming commitment to leave the EU. Over 80% of MPs subsequently were re-elected in 2017 on manifestos pledging to implement Brexit. Legally, in the absence of an agreed deal, the UK, therefore, will leave with “No Deal” on March 29, unless the Article 50 deadline is extended by the mutual agreement of the EU and the UK. A No Deal, however, doesn’t mean “crashing out” as some like to fear monger. It just means agreeing a set of side deals and a temporary return to WTO rules for trading, until new trade deals and arrangements are worked out between both parties.As I said on Bloomberg TV last week- I still believe that the UK will leave the EU with a deal. An extension of Article 50 is likely to give enough time to conclude a deal. There will be a transition period in which the UK will be part of the customs union and at the end of the transition period, the EU and the UK will move on to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). As far as the UK is concerned the “freedom of movement” of workers is a red line and will not be up for negotiation. The EU doesn’t want a No Deal scenario. Nor does the UK for that matter. A No Deal would be very inconvenient for the UK in the short term, as details of new arrangements are worked out, but it would be a growing tragedy for the EU to lose a nation it has a big trade deficit with. Besides a No Deal at, minimum, means: Immediate halt to the £39 billion “divorce payment” to the EUNo further annual contributions of £13 billion to the EU budgetThe EU’s entire exports to the UK – £341 billion last year would be put at riskA severe macroeconomic calamity for IrelandThis, at a time when the economic woes of Germany (the driver of the EU 27) are growing as it is hit by weaker exports to China and elsewhere, as well as softer demand at home. A German slowdown is already ringing alarm bells in Brussels and at the European Central Bank (ECB). Weaker German growth is very bad news for the rest of the European continent, where many economies are linked to the demands of the German export machine and German consumers. For instance, Germany is France and Italy’s top export destination with 15% of total French exports and 12.5% of total Italian exports going to Germany. A slowdown in Germany would hit France and Italy hard. The possibility of a No Deal or messy Brexit, populism and unrest in France, mounting US protectionism and the slowdown in China all are major headwinds for Germany and the Eurozone. China is Germany’s largest trading partner ahead of the US. If that’s not enough, cast your mind back to last July and the Trump-Juncker conference that temporarily diffused the risk of damaging tariffs on EU auto exports to the US, in return for the EU pledging to work to achieve “zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods.” Fast forward 6 months, and the EU is now being accused by US officials of dragging its feet on trade talks in the hopes of waiting out the Trump administration. It won’t end well if you know what Trump is like. President Donald Trump is about to conclude a trade deal with China. With the Mexico-Canada and China deals completed, all efforts and urgency will go into taking on what Trump likes to call the EU’s “unfair trade deal” with the US that “robs” the US and treats it like a “piggy bank”. Expect fireworks soon. I see a second referendum as the least likely outcome. A general election is more likely than a second referendum. We know that the country is divided roughly down the middle – half favouring Leave and half favouring Remain. A new referendum will only frustrate those who voted to leave and waste valuable time and resources. Even if there were a second referendum, in my opinion, Leave is likely to win again. In a tweet, Robbie Gibb, Director of Communication at 10 Downing Street reminded us as much – “1.9 million Leave voters say they would now vote to Remain. But 2.4 million Remain voters would now vote to Leave. The country hasn’t changed its mind.” Remember also that the voters were told the Brexit referendum was a “once in a lifetime vote” and 3 years is not a lifetime by any stretch of the imagination. For many in the UK – whether Remainer or Brexiteer, a second vote amounts to a violation of democracy. As for GBP/USD, the UK economic data on a relative basis is getting better and the US is unlikely to raise rates until the summer given concern about the economic slowdown in the US. Therefore I see GBP/USD getting to 1.32 by June, creeping up to 1.36 or higher by September and 1.40 or higher next year. Link to the newsletter: --------------------------------------------------Manish Singh, CFAChief Investment OfficerCrossbridge Capital LLP9 South StreetLondon W1K 2XA

Business 14 Jan 2019

natural spring water

Business 04 Sep 2018

ybbinvest uk

Business 25 May 2018

la ruche at neac -lalande de pomerol

From september '18 Chateau Business will start in Bordeaux -Neac 10 minutes from Libourne and 10 minutes from beautifull St. Emilion. Walking distance 500 meter to Chateau Petrus The house (swimmingpool) is located between the Lalande de Pomerol Vinyards. From half july for rent as holiday house. till the end of August. interested:

Business 29 Mar 2018

how to design the next 10 years of your life

Click here to Watch and Listen to the interview. will the next 10 years of your life look like? If you don't know, that's okay! This interview will give you the strategies that will empower you to design your life, on your terms. I had the pleasure of interviewing my good friend, Darren Jacklin, on the topic of how to design the next 10 years of your life. Darren is a world-class speaker, entrepreneur, corporate trainer, investor, and philanthropist. Over the last 22 years, he has personally trained and mentored over 1 million people in over 46 countries. Known as the "Mega Manifestor," Darren teaches people how they can achieve whatever it is that they desire in life. His story is an inspirational one. He is living proof that you are not defined by your life circumstances. He has come back from rock bottom, leveled up his life, and achieved massive success. Are you ready to learn from Darren Jacklin how to design the next 10 years of your life? This is an interview that you don't want to miss.Learn More About Darren Jacklin: 

Business 21 Mar 2018

where to find successful family businesses?

Where in the world will you find the most successful family businesses? Behind a successful family business there is usually a story of hard work, dedication, inspiration and sacrifice. It may even be a tale of someone achieving great things against incredible odds. Certainly, the 500 largest family firms in the world today are towering examples of human endeavor – among them are household names such as Wal-Mart, Volkswagen, Ford and ALDI. Each year, the Center for Family Business at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland, in cooperation with EY’s Global Family Business Center of Excellence, compiles an index of the largest 500 family firms around the world. To qualify as a family business for the index, the family must control more than 50% of the voting rights in the case of a privately held firm, or 32% of the voting rights in the case of a publicly listed firm. The index offers some fascinating insights into the world’s largest family-owned businesses, in terms of where they are based, how much wealth they generate and how many people they employ. The US is home to more than a quarter (27.8%) of the businesses on the index – more than any other country – which may surprise those who see it as the land of publicly listed companies and unicorns, rather than a haven of sustainable, trans-generational businesses. Next on the list comes Germany, followed by France. These rankings reflect the strong culture of family-owned businesses in the Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA) region, which hosts more than half (51%) of all firms on the index. Not unexpectedly, we have started to see the emerging markets make their presence felt. Asia-Pacific has 59 entries on the index in 2017, up from 52 in the last edition of the index. Furthermore, it boasts the fastest-growing family-run business in the world – automotive parts manufacturer Wanxiang Group Corporation – which racked up an impressive compound annual growth rate of 203.3% between 2012 and 2015. China Fortune Land Development Company also made the list of the world’s 10 fastest-growing family-run businesses. Yet despite China’s growing economic might, I don’t expect to see Chinese family-run businesses start to dominate the index in the near future. Succession limitations restrict the pool of people eligible to take over the running of a family business. Also, with second-generation family members more likely to be “global citizens” than the first generation, they may prefer to exit and become investors with their own wealth management vehicle instead of manage the business. By Marnix van Rij

Business 13 Mar 2018

trends that are expected to rule social media

Trends That Are Expected To Rule Social Media In 2018 The most common thing we hear and experience ‘Social media is evolving everyday’, which is indeed true.It’s only few months left for 2017 and we can see enormous changes in social media industry every day. On one hand we can see new social media platforms coming up and on other hand the existing social media is updating and coming up with new Ideas.There are certain predictions made every year but technology never fails to surprise us.Here are the trends predicted in social media. Where most of the points are referred from Hubspot, Forbes and Spread social, the final concluded points are my personal opinion.Increase of Paid Ads: The organic approach is no longer working like it did 5 years back. According to Hubspot, the paid campaigns on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram has increased 30% and trend is expected to go upward only in 2018.Customer Support via Social Media: The response to the customer queries is much better and quicker on social media platforms when compared to the traditional Email method. Let me share an incident, I was booking movie tickets online and the transaction got failed and I raised a mail to their Help desk and also tweeted them using my twitter handle. The response to my tweet was in 15-20 minutes and reply to my mail was 2 hours later. This clearly showed how brands are using social media to provide quicker and better customer support.SnapChat: A new social media platform which is booming among teenagers. A complete unique user experience is reason of its success. According to Forbes, Snap chat has 200million active users (It includes 11% of the total US population) with a daily data sharing up to 700 million pictures and 8.1 billion videos. Even after several controversies there are around 40 lakhs Indians users on SnapChat (Source: quora user) 99% of which is teenagers. Even in 2018 the numbers of users are predicted to increase more.Demand for Advanced content: People in 2017 are well aware of the technology. Their demand for new age and advanced content is growing day by day. Content like 360 degree video and VR (virtual reality)experience is expected to grow more and more on Social Media in coming years.More and more video: The rate of response is much more when it comes to video content on social media. And we can all see that the live video is setting trend all over Facebook and Instagram. With LinkedIn enabling video optionwill diversify the way of conducting Webinars, etc. According to Business Insider, Apple and Facebook is spending billions of dollars for original video content in 2018.More on manual work than automatic: Well, few years back when the social media was roaring it’s sky-high there plenty of automated options of uploading data, instant reply to the messages via automated plugin. But these methods are not recommended anymore, a personal touch is needed all over which boldly and clearly states, MANUAL over AUTOMATIC.Unique approach: Facebook has recently observed ‘Upload profile picture with customized frame’. This unique approach is trending on social media a lot. Any movie whose release date is near is releasing their frame and it is doing their much needed promotion. More such unique approaches will be observed in 2018.Content in multiple Languages: In countries like India with recent revolution of telecom industry, Internet users are increased tremendously. Plenty of which are using internet, Social media with their regional languages. So what I feel is in order to target and engage each and every one, Content in multiple languagesis recommended.Still there are many points raised like Twitter is losing its charm because of the popularity of # tags on Instagram, Facebook is feeling insecure with G+ coming up and growing steadily.Let’s see what 2018 will bring change in Social Media.What do you think? Please comment below.

Business 04 Jan 2018

wine foodtech startup company raising money

Hello,I have been mandated By a French Foodtech #Startup Company that sells a new #Wine concept - Premium Wines in a Can - with already strong commercial Traction All over the World to Raise 2M€ to boost their Sales Development. #Investments possible from 100K€.Please email at if serious interest to Invest and I Will Give you more détails and answer Your Questions.Wish you a Fabulous Year 2018 !!!Arnaud

Business 31 Dec 2017

exclusive corporate concierge services in new york

BEHIND THE SCENES NYC "Strengthening the local community, thinking disruptively, exploring the best of NY far from the touristy scene!"Behind the Scenes NYC (BTSNYC) is a full service corporate planning and management firm that curates non-touristic and unique experiences in New York. In addition, we are a News/Media company focused on fostering culturally rich, educational and community-driven tourism and content. With a community of over 100 thousand followers on Social Media, BTSNYC uncovers low-profile hot spots, hip events and brands that will help your company stand out. BTSNYC also works with a fresh, unique approach to travel planning, event management and unique experiences. We don't plan traditional meetings and events. We are strategic partners. We understand the needs of clients and produce unique experiences for them. Every project is designed with meticulous attention to detail and obsessive precision. Whether the need is to organize an event, host clients, go to off-the-beaten path places, organize an upstate trip or access some of the most coveted events in NY, BTSNYC can provide clients with exclusive and unique ideas.  Our services includes:- Travel Planning- Private Event Organization- Car Services & Private Aviation- Personal Styling, Shopping & Beauty Services- Exclusive Tours and Customized Experiences- Lifestyle Relocation Services- Real EstateTake a look at all the details:

Business 31 Dec 2017

exclusive corporate concierge services in new york

BEHIND THE SCENES NYC "Strengthening the local community, thinking disruptively, exploring the best of NY far from the touristy scene!"Behind the Scenes NYC (BTSNYC) is a full service corporate planning and management firm that curates non-touristic and unique experiences in New York. In addition, we are a News/Media company focused on fostering culturally rich, educational and community-driven tourism and content. With a community of over 100 thousand followers on Social Media, BTSNYC uncovers low-profile hot spots, hip events and brands that will help your company stand out. BTSNYC also works with a fresh, unique approach to travel planning, event management and unique experiences. We don't plan traditional meetings and events. We are strategic partners. We understand the needs of clients and produce unique experiences for them. Every project is designed with meticulous attention to detail and obsessive precision. Whether the need is to organize an event, host clients, go to off-the-beaten path places, organize an upstate trip or access some of the most coveted events in NY, BTSNYC can provide clients with exclusive and unique ideas.  Our services includes:- Travel Planning- Private Event Organization- Car Services & Private Aviation- Personal Styling, Shopping & Beauty Services- Exclusive Tours and Customized Experiences- Lifestyle Relocation Services- Real EstateTake a look at all the details:

Business 13 Nov 2017

paradise papers

Since the story broke just short of a week ago, much of the western world has been consumed by the Paradise Papers leak. Many have been quick to point the finger at the public figures whose names have turned up in the documents and attack them for alleged “tax avoidance”. Is that fair? By Adam Ramlugon  Another day, another so called scandal for the wealthy elites caught up in the Paradise Papers fracas.  A lot of electronic ink has been spilled since this story broke, with calls for those named in this latest leak to “apologise” all the way up to far more colourful language. Reports suggest that HMRC has as many as 66 criminal investigations are now on foot as a result of last year’s Panama Papers leak, the inference being that there is more to come from this most recent lifting of the lid on the tax affairs of what Bernie Sanders described as a “global oligarchy”.Speaking as a lawyer who has not seen one shred of the swathes of Paradise Papers material (something I have in common, I would imagine, with the majority of commentators outside the journalists who broke the story), I must say that I have been troubled by two things:First, the (vitriolic) tenor of some of the comments left on social media pages and comment sections which are directed at the individuals whose names have turned up in the documents. In many cases the subjects of these tirades will simply have entered into legal arrangements on professional advice. Whatever your view on the practices brought to light by the Paradise Papers, such “trials by media” should not be condoned. Anyone with an axe to grind should direct their complaints at legislature that make the rules, not those who comply with them. Second, what appears to be conflation between the terms “tax avoidance” and “tax evasion”. The first, when conducted reasonably and not abusively, is entirely legal (and we’ll come back to that). The second is not. A great many commentators do not seem to appreciate the distinction and by doing so, end up accusing their targets of doing nothing more than complying with the law. I would encourage you to listen to Peter Bone MP’s comments to the Shadow Chancellor in this regard this week. Put another way, there does not seem to be a clear enough line drawn between acts which might constitute tax evasion or abusive practices and tax avoidance, which is part of reasonable tax planning strategy. Consider for a moment, that if you take advantage of your personal income allowance, or pay savings into an ISA, you are a tax avoider too. I now want to turn to address the argument that UK taxpayers have an untrammelled right to arrange their affairs in whatever manner they like in an effort to avoid tax. This is simply not true, and has not been so since, at the very latest, the introduction of HMRC’s General Anti-Abuse Rule (the “GAAR”) which came into force in July 2013. Revised Guidance on the intended purpose of the GAAR was published earlier this year on 31 March. Here is a brief summary of that Guidance. Tax avoidance - The Law   My colleague Mark Needham wrote a post earlier this week (which has since gone viral) in which he quoted the famous judgment of Lord Clyde in the Ayrshire Pullman case. In that judgment, the Lord Justice held as follows: “No man in this country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so as to arrange his legal relations to his business or to his property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel into his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow – and quite rightly – to take every advantage which is open to it under the taxing statutes for the purpose of depleting the taxpayer’s pocket. And the taxpayer is, in like manner, entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.” Although this judgment was handed down in 1929, its principles remain relevant today and it is still a touchstone for those who believe that, given the balance of power between the state and the individual taxpayer, it is only right that the latter should be entitled to avail themselves of whatever reliefs or other arrangements exist within the letter of the law. That being said, the GAAR has surely had the effect of cutting down what have often been looked upon as rights enshrined by the courts. The Guidance makes it clear that in enacting the GAAR, Parliament: “…rejects the approach taken by the Courts in a number of old cases to the effect that taxpayers are free to use their ingenuity to reduce their tax bills by any lawful means, however contrived those means might be…” And also takes direct aim at Ayshire Pullman which: “…illustrates the approach which Parliament has rejected in enacting the GAAR legislation. Taxation is not to be treated as a game where taxpayers can indulge in inventive schemes in order to eliminate or reduce their tax liability…” What the Guidance boils down to, however, is an effort to strike a balance between keeping reasonable courses of action (making use of statutory incentives, EIS reliefs and so on) which are outside the scope of the GAAR, and abusive arrangements which “viewed objectively, has the obtaining of a tax advantage as its main purpose…”. So, in sum, whilst there may be some difficulty in determining what is and is not a reasonable or abusive arrangement, there are rules in place that are directed at some of the practices that are perceived in some quarters as abusive, aggressive or immoral tax arrangements. So, whilst Lord Clyde’s judgment is most certainly still of some utility, the GAAR has slightly watered down how much overt reliance can be placed on it, at least for the purposes of English law. Summary It may very well be the case that the Paradise Papers have or will provide some evidence of out and out tax evasion or other practices deemed abusive as a matter of law which will be met with sanctions. My personal view is that this is purely a matter for HMRC. Any attempts to put individual taxpayers through the court of public opinion are at best premature and in any event ill-conceived. Those of us within society that take the view that there are shortcomings with the UK’s tax system should take this matter up with Parliament through their local representatives. That being said, it does seem clear that there is something of a gap between the UK’s tax laws as they currently stand and what the court of public opinion (albeit fuelled with inflammatory commentary by the media) believes they should be. Parliament take note.

Business 06 Nov 2017

the most desirable business schools

The Most Desirable Business SchoolsBy Gregory YangCritics argue that the MBA is on its last legs, but demand at the top MBA schools is continuously growing.Ready4, a Boston-based company that creates test prep apps, recently released its annual ranking of the “The Most Desired Business School Programs.”Among the 25 schools ranked, Harvard secured the number one spot with Stanford following in second. Four new schools made this year’s rankings, including the London School of Economics (17th place), Cornell (19th place), University of Michigan (24th place), and Dartmouth (25th place). At the same time, Boston College, Carnegie Mellon, Imperial College, and USC fell off the list.Rank and SchoolAvg. GMAT% of Ready 4 Users Indicate as a Top Choice1. Harvard2. Stanford3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)4. MIT (Sloan)5. Indian School of Business6. Columbia7. London Business School8. New York University9. INSEAD10. University of California Berkeley11. University of Chicago12. Northwestern13. Indian Institute of Management14. Yale15. Duke16. University of Oxford17. London School of Economics18. HEC Paris19. Cornell20. University of Cambridge21. National University of Singapore22. UCLA23. SP Jain Institute of Management24. University of Michigan Ann Arbor25. DartmouthThe MethodologyReady4’s rankings are based on methodology that’s reported by current and prospective students. In other words, students themselves are ranking which schools they find most desirable.Registered Ready4 users from 195 countries register to download the platform’s GMAT prep mobile application. In the process, they are required to select 10 schools they are interested in applying to. The data was based off 250,000 site visitors since November 2015, with men comprising 62% of the sample. Among its rankings, Ready4 also displays the average GMAT score, acceptance rate, and percentage of students who indicate the school as a top choice.Top B-Schools Are Getting More ApplicantsWhat does this ranking say? For one, it appears that student demand for the top b-schools hasn’t changed. According to a Fortune report, top b-schools are seeing an increase in applicants. “Yale University’s School of Management has seen a whopping 45% increase inapplications since 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School ofBusiness has seen a 28% increase, and University of California-Berkeley’s Haas hasseen a 20.7% uptick.”Along those lines, t is a reflection of which programs are generating the most interest before applications are submitted. According to Ready4, the respondents possessed 4 years and 7 months of work experience, with 65% of them looking to start business school within the next year. As a result, the survey is a measurement of school interest from the Class of 2020 and 2021.Not surprisingly, the big three – Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – continued to garner the most interest. For the most part, the top schools cited by Ready4 users were larger programs (300+ student annual intake) and urban. The majority were American – though by a slimmer 15-to-10 margin than might be expected. That said, several international schools, including the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Oxford, and the National University of Singapore experienced the biggest drops in interest.

Business 25 Sep 2017

at audemars piguet, sales go beyond the showroom

At Audemars Piguet, Sales Go Beyond the ShowroomBy RACHEL GARRAHANSEPT. 19, 2017 ORLANDO, Fla. — Amid the Spanish moss and manicured lawns of the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, François-Henry Bennahmias was in his element during Audemars Piguet’s golf tournament.The chief executive of the Swiss watchmaker, himself once ranked 25th on the French Golf Tour, held court in April with more than 70 clients from around the world who had gathered to play alongside what the brand calls its “dream team” of golf pro ambassadors.As well as competing in a convivial atmosphere with the likes of 2016 Masters winner Danny Willett and 2016 British Open winner Henrik Stenson, guests enjoyed the company of Serena Williams, another brand ambassador. The “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson, described as a friend of the brand, also attended. (He frequently wears one of its Royal Oak timepieces on the ABC sitcom.)Mr. Bennahmias said he believes that this kind of money-can’t-buy experience has been key in Audemars Piguet’s record of annual growth since 2009, despite challenging conditions in the global watch market.“We have something truly special in terms of connection with our clients,” the 53-year-old executive said during an interview at the Waldorf Astoria in Orlando, which was host of the event.Client experience may be the luxury industry’s phrase du jour but Mr. Bennahmias said his approach is at the core of the brand’s approach to both sales and after-sales.“I answer every single client’s email personally,” he said by way of example. “I want them to feel that they don’t have to go through many doors before getting their answers, or speaking to whoever they want to talk to.”The strategy appears to be paying off. While signs of the watch market’s recovery have begun to be seen this year, the market’s 2016 totals showed a sales decline of almost 10 percent in 2015 totals — while Audemars Piguet’s revenue was up seven percent, to almost 900 million Swiss francs, or $937 million.Mr. Bennahmias is as competitive in business as he is on the golf course. He has ambitious plans to increase revenue by almost 50 percent, to 1.3 billion francs, although he has not disclosed a timetable. “How do we do that? What we are doing here this week is one thing and there are many others,” he said. “We need to connect more and more everyday to potential buyers, in any way, shape or form.”If establishing an authentic connection with the customer sounds like it came from a sales handbook, it is not surprising that the French executive describes himself first and foremost as a salesman. “I could pretty much sell anything,” he said with a laugh.Before joining Audemars Piguet in 1994, he worked in fashion distribution for the likes of Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferré. It would be accurate, however, to say that he started out in croissants.It was as an 8-year-old in Paris that he spied his first business opportunity, enlisting his 6-year-old brother as partner. “We were living in a residence where there were 15 buildings with three floors each,” he said. “I got the idea that if we could bring them breakfast, instead of them going to the bakery, that we could make money. So we made a deal with the local baker.”The enterprise however was short-lived. “My brother wouldn’t wake up, he was too lazy and I couldn’t carry the whole thing myself,” he added. “We went bankrupt pretty quick.”At Audemars Piguet, however, he became responsible for building its American business in 1999. The territory remains its largest single market today.In January 2013 he became chief executive, and immediately began making changes to the business, which is still owned by the families that founded it in 1875. “We decided: fewer, bigger, better,” he said. As well as shrinking the watchmaker’s range from about 300 styles to a more manageable 140, he also reduced its number of retail partners.“Less references, less doors,” Mr. Bennahmias said. “It meant more quality at every level: quality of the collection, quality of the distribution network, quality of the training of the retailers, quality of the training of the staff in our boutiques, and quality of the client experience.”Another popular decision announced about two and a half years ago was that the company would produce no more than 40,000 watches a year for at least five years. “A lot of clients loved that,” he said. “The notion that we wouldn’t chase revenue just by increasing the quantity of watches made.”He credits Audemars Piguet’s continued status as an independent watchmaker, a rarity in today’s conglomerate-heavy market, for his ability to make quick decisions. “There are things we’ve done as a brand in the last five years that if we’d belonged to a big corporation, would never have seen the light of day,” he said. “It would have taken too long to get a yes.”Another area that has been overhauled since his appointment is Audemars Piguet’s women’s offering. “Five years ago, we were selling roughly between 15 to 20 percent of our watches to women,” he said. “We’ve now reached 30 percent.” (Partly through such introductions as the Royal Oak Frosted Gold, a 2016 version of the brand’s popular style for women.)As well as making its communications and its retail spaces less masculine, the company has honed its watch range to suit a female customer who buys for herself.It was Mr. Bennahmias who demanded a high jewelry collection that broke the mold of the diamond-encrusted flowers and butterfly-decorated timepieces that have long dominated the market. “I said, ‘Show me high jewelry from the 22nd century. I want to see tomorrow, not yesterday.’ ”The resulting Diamond Trilogy succeeded in attracting not only press attention from around the world for its aesthetic daring and considerable craftsmanship, but also in increasing the brand’s high jewelry market from just one country, Hong Kong, to six or seven.The overall retail strategy is now in Mr. Bennahmias’s sights. As well as increasing revenues by shifting away from wholesale partnerships in favor of its own boutiques, the company is preparing to open the first of what it calls its “lounges,” above-ground-level retail spaces where the focus will be on a premium customer experience rather than costly build-outs for showcase spaces with premium rents. The first are scheduled to open in London, Munich and New York by the end of this year.Innovations like these, as well as searching for a solution to the thorny problem of online watch retailing, are required, Mr. Bennahmias said, to serve a new generation of consumers. A generation that includes his daughter, who recently received her first Audemars Piguet on her 20th birthday, and who is accustomed to plentiful choice and immediate gratification at the touch of a finger.“We have to be pragmatic and deliver what they want. And what clients want today is to be able to trust in the brand they’re purchasing from, to know that the service is going to be good after the purchase, and the speed of the whole thing,” he said. “We are not there yet; we have a long way to go.” 

Business 23 Sep 2017

who is the american entrepreneur?

Who is the American Entrepreneur?By :John Dick, Founder and CEO, CivicScience, Inc.Entrepreneurs are a different breed, across a number of dimensions you would never even think of. We gathered the data to prove it.IntroductionI started my first company when I was 24 years old. Unlike many of my business- owning peers, it wasn’t a childhood dream or something I even prepared for in college (though I wish I had). I simply had an idea, one that I couldn’t shake, and one that only grew more seductive when I found a business partner who believed in it as much as I did. We left decent jobs, a predictable career path, and a guaranteed income to start a company from scratch. We had no business experience or education, no discernible high-value skills, and even less money.Still, somehow it worked. Sure, we owe a lot to good (if dumb) luck, fortuitous timing, and an immeasurable amount of hard work. But, as I’ve met hundreds of other entrepreneurs in the 18 years since – people of all shapes, sizes, educational backgrounds, and means - I’ve realized there is something in a business-starter’s personality and temperament that distinguishes them from everyone else. I can see it from a mile away, even if I can’t describe it.Beware, the EntrepreneurFriends often ask me if I would be willing to meet and counsel an aspiring business-starter they know. I always say yes (I have a lot of past generosity in my career to pay forward) and I always do it at the local coffee shop by our office. And I can almost always tell, before I finish my coffee, whether the person I’m meeting has the necessary screws loose to give it a go. It doesn’t mean I can tell if they’ll be successful - if I could, I wouldn’t be flying commercial. I can just sense whether they have the combination of courage, humility, commitment, and some degree of blissful ignorance and flexibility to see it through.I’m not just talking about the stereotypical entrepreneurs in tech, professional services, or other trendy businesses you’d find in an urban, shared working space. My cousin Bob Merkel owns the only restaurant, catering business, and food truck in a tiny Western Pennsylvania town of less than 1,000 people. He never got an MBA, didn’t grow up in the restaurant business, and didn’t buy into an entrepreneurship-in-a-box franchise. Yet, he’s perhaps the most entrepreneurial person I know.I’m also not suggesting that entrepreneurs are better than anyone else – far from it. I know too many people who failed miserably, wrecked their finances and their families, and had to work well into their golden years to make up for it. We tend to be overly self-centered, stubborn, and aloof in our other personal responsibilities. I would think twice before marrying an entrepreneur. My wife is a saint.Business-Owner Big DataGiven my fascination with this subject, I am quite lucky to have the data access at CivicScience that I do. Since 2011, we have polled over 88,000 people in our database who own and/or operate their own business. They’ve given millions of answers to thousands of different questions about their likes, dislikes, lifestyle, media habits, personality, and much more. We can compare them to their non- business-owning peers, on near-countless dimensions, and find the things that make them most different. We can see trends over time.So, I recently embarked on an extensive study – comparing these business owners to the general U.S. population - to add some quantitative backing to my personal experience. I hope you find it as interesting as I did.About This ResearchThe following is a brief synopsis of analysis conducted by CivicScience on 23,795 U.S. adults who own and/or operate their own business. These individuals were analyzed across hundreds of dimensions ranging from their demographics, to their media consumption, shopping behaviors, lifestyles, and much more. The goal was to identify the ways in which entrepreneurs differ from non-entrepreneurs. What we found was an interesting mix of surprises and common sense validation.Who We StudiedAnytime we engage in comparative research like this, our biggest fear is that all of our findings will stem from one or two demographic “proxies” that explain all of our differences. For example, if we wanted to compare people who use Snapchat to the general population, the majority of our findings would simply relate to the fact that Snapchat users are younger. That’s not very interesting. Instead, we need to use sampling and statistical techniques to prevent that from happening when we can.For this study, I made two decisions (either of which is arguable, but it’s my company, so whatever): First, I constrained our sample only to business owners and non-business owners between the ages of 25 and 54. Why? Because older business owners, many of whom are phasing out of their business operations, and those in their teens, who may believe that their grass-cutting gig qualifies, look nothing like those who are in the rush hour of their lives. This brings our sample of business owners to 23,795, still a sizable number for analysis.Second, we reweighted our numbers – within that age group – by gender. Despite a lot of progress in recent years, women still represent only about a third of U.S. private business owners. Thus, our initial unweighted results merely yielded a bunch of gender-related differences. By multiplying our number of female respondents to line up with the Census, we were better able to contrast entrepreneurs, apples-to-apples, with the rest of the U.S. population.What We FoundThis link will take you to a PDF file of what we call a DeepProfileTM report, including category-by-category graphs, scales, and full results for most of the larger topic areas we studied. Check it out if you want. Otherwise, here are the Cliff’s Notes:DEMOGRAPHICSNo surprise, rates of entrepreneurship increased with the age of respondents. Business owners were less likely to be between age 25 and 34 and most likely to be between 45 and 54. As such, entrepreneurs are slightly more likely to be Parents/Grandparents, and to own their own home.Likewise, rates increased with rising income, though not as dramatically as we might expect. People making between $25-50k per year (18% of all entrepreneurs) make up only 1% less of the business owner group than those making over $150k (19% of all entrepreneurs).Rates of entrepreneurship correlate with education level, but only barely. 39% of US adults in our age group have a bachelor’s degree and only 38% of entrepreneurs. 34% of entrepreneurs never completed college. Business owners were, however, much more likely than average to have a graduate degree. They’re also 24% more likely than non-owners to have an undergraduate degree in Business.One finding that did surprise me: Entrepreneurship was more common in rural areas, less so in urban ones. Perhaps because there are less corporate centers in rural towns, more people turn to self-employment.SHOPPING AND FINANCESEntrepreneurs are much more likely than the general public to be what we call “Market Mavens.” It means that they are more likely to try new products and technologies before others; and tell people about it – either directly or via product reviews. They also consult online reviews before buying. They’re much less likely to be price conscious, in every area other than household products.Entrepreneurs are more likely than other 25-54-year-olds to favor locally-owned establishments but NOT socially-conscious ones. They’re much more likely to say they manage their money “very well,” closely follow the markets, and monitor their retirement savings. They’re much LESS likely to use a mobile device for banking.Overall, entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs are equally tech-savvy, but in very different ways. Our business owners over-index in terms of following technology trends and in adopting new technologies like augmented reality and smart home products. They are less likely, conversely, to own a smart watch or to consider themselves “addicted” to their digital device.ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORTSWhen it comes to entertainment technology, entrepreneurs over-index as users of eReaders and wireless speaker systems. But they’re less likely than their non- entrepreneur peers when it comes to streaming music or TV/videos, particularly via Netflix.Those differences can be largely attributed to the fact that entrepreneurs watch less television than others. They only over-index significantly as Documentary fans, while vastly under-indexing in the Sitcom and Drama department.Entrepreneurs do rank higher than non-entrepreneurs as sports fans, particularly when it comes to Major League Baseball, the NHL, and NCAA football. They’re also more likely to attend sporting events.HEALTH AND LIFESTYLEOne of the biggest disparities we found between business owners and non-owners were their attitudes and behaviors around health and wellness. Entrepreneurs are noticeably more likely than non-entrepreneurs to exercise, not smoke, take vitamins or nutritional supplements, and value health and fitness overall.Entrepreneurs are also more likely to be passionate about food and cooking. They cook dinner most often in their homes, search for new recipes online, and follow food and cooking trends.Entrepreneurs are also more likely to dine out, though they’re pickier about when and where they do it. Our business owner respondents, unsurprisingly, are more likely to eat out for lunch, eat at upscale restaurants, and order take-out. They’re less likely to eat at casual, fast-casual, or quick-service restaurants.SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONSCIOUSNESSEntrepreneurs significantly over-index as charitable givers – even though their income isn’t significantly higher. They donate to causes of all kinds more than non-entrepreneurs and even do volunteer work at a much higher rate.This socially-conscious streak can be found particularly in environmental areas. Entrepreneurs are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly products, use reusable shopping bags, and eat locally grown, and organic foods.MISCELLANEOUSYou won’t find these in the PDF report because I did some extra, manual digging on my own. Here are a few interesting stats I uncovered.Entrepreneurs are more likely than non-entrepreneurs to:• Have an UNFAVORABLE view of Amazon• Choose an Import beer over domestic or craft beers• Live in the U.S. West or U.S. South, not the U.S. Northeast• Use AT&T as their wireless carrier• Value performance, design, and technology when buying a car•  Contribute to political candidates or parties• Live in a household with someone who has heart disease• Have either zero siblings or 4 or morePERSONALITY TYPEFinally, I looked at a series of questions in our database relating to things like personality type, cognitive attributes, and overall happiness – attempting to trace them back to my personal observations. Here’s what I found:Entrepreneurs are more likely than non-entrepreneurs to like keeping their plans flexible, as opposed to making plans and sticking with them (business folks call this “pivoting”). They’re more likely to make decisions objectively, not based on how they feel or how others will be affected. When making major decisions, however, entrepreneurs like to keep their options open, as opposed to having things settled.When discussing touchy issues, entrepreneurs are more straight-forward and direct, versus sensitive and diplomatic. And when someone is trying to convince them of something, they are more persuaded by logical, not emotional arguments.OVERALL HAPPINESSDespite all of those differences between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, they don’t necessarily end up in different places. We already touched on the fact that income varied only slightly between the two groups. Marriage and divorce rates were virtually identical. When we looked at corresponding levels of reported stress, no group was better off than the other.Business owners are more likely than non-owners to say they are “Very Happy” in their lives. Perhaps they’re happier because they don’t have a boss breathing down their necks or because they get to hand-pick their own coworkers. Or maybe it’s because they’re chasing a dream. Or maybe it’s just because you need to be a blissfully ignorant fool to start a business in the first place. We don’t have the data to answer that question.CONCLUSIONI suppose none of these findings fully confirmed or refuted my personal observations about entrepreneurs, other than the fact that they’re a different breed of cat. Age, education level and income are factors but not major ones. It doesn’t matter so much where they live. Business-starters have different shopping, media, technology, entertainment, and lifestyle attributes. Some of these may be a cause of entrepreneurship; some might be an effect.Entrepreneurs do have a consistent personality type – unemotional and objective (perhaps “heartless”) in their decision-making, direct (see: “confrontational”) in their communications, and flexible and open-minded (ie. “flaky”) in their planning. Maybe these are the things I can sense in a 30-minute meeting with someone over coffee. Takes one to know one, I guess.In the end, happiness is what counts. Entrepreneurship surely isn’t the only path but it’s a great one if you can take it. Just ask yourself this question: If you fit the entrepreneurial profile I outlined above, you’re at a stage in your life when you can do it, and you have an idea that won’t leave you alone, what are you waiting for?

Business 07 Sep 2017

teetering on the cusp of a kodak moment

Teetering on the cusp of a Kodak moment Vladimir Berezansky considers the implications of rapid technological change for regulatory and compliance specialistsThroughout human history, especially modern history, certain attributes or characteristics have been applied as cognitive placeholders for variouseras, usually grouped into decades: The Roaring 1920s; The Great Depression of the 1930s; the prosperous post- War 1950s; the rebellious 1960s. Whilst such aggregative adjectives may be less than entirely accurate, they are more than mere cliche?s.The factors most commonly identified with defining these eras are geopolitical and/or macro-economic: two world wars; the Great Depression; American prosperity and the Marshall Plan, etc. But what remain under-represented in many of these collective recollections are the significant technological advances that often launched and even defined an historic era such as, for example, the Age of the Telegraph.This diminished appreciation for technological achievements and their significance in shaping historical eras can be traced at least in part to a collective fearof the uncontrollable consequences that technological developments might unleash. From Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot, and HAL 9000, Stanley Kubrick’s stealthily lethal on-board computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we humans are quite aware that technological achievements could well prove our undoing as the dominant species on this planet.Banking’s “Kodak moment” Antony Jenkins, the former CEO of Barclays, recently o ered a telling comparison while chatting with a Bloomberg presenter2, juxtaposing significant modifications and improvements along a linear progression of technological development (which he termed an “Uber moment”) against developments that transform an industry, thereby rendering the previous methods used irrevocably obsolete (which he termed a “Kodak moment”, in so doing dating himself and anyone able to follow his line of thought without having recourse to Google).According to this paradigm, the “gradual” transition from “bricks and mortar” banking to mobile banking would be an Uber moment, whereas a change to market conditions whereby the customers’ primary – and perhaps preferred – means of interaction with their banks would be viaa bot or other AI-supported interface would constitute a Kodak moment. In the latter instance, the customer is engaging the bank in a fundamentally di erent context.This leaves today’s banking industry in an historically anomalous situation. Many of the recognised captains –the CEOs and former CEOs such as Jenkins – and thought leaders in this sector seem to have an at least roughly- articulated concept of where banking-related financial services are headed, but with little idea – at least at present – as to how to get there.This conundrum is compounded by two sources of collective anxiety: the relatively near-term threat that AI-based enhancements could give rise to a massive depopulation of the banking / financial services sector; and the long-term fear of creating a Frankenstein-esque financial services matrix that would no longer be susceptible to human control (i.e. a meta-bank without a kill switch, or with a kill switch that the AI control function has defeated). In this scenario, HAL has successfully locked David (Dr Bowman) out of the spaceship.Not only do we lack a critical path for reaching this AI-supported Holy Grail, we are unable to define, muchless account for, systemic risks that come under Donald Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns” rubric. Considering that cyber warfare as a conceptual threat has been in the public eye since at least 1983 (with the release of the film War Games) it is more than mildly disturbing that the financial regulatory community is only now – literally a generation later – getting down to articulating meaningful protocols and procedures towards establishing best practices for cyber security – and this only after the recent and jarring “WannaCry” and “Petya” shocks to the system.3Rethinking the financial regulatory function That we live in an era of geometrically diminishing (sequentially truncated) generations of technological evolution has long become a truism. If we take Moore’s Law4 – i.e. that chip (integrated circuit) performance doubles approximately every 18 months – as axiomatic,it seems self-evident that the heretofore traditional regulatory paradigm – i.e. (1) a newly-developed technology is introduced into the banking / financial services sectors; (2) after an initially unregulated experimental / phase-in period, financial regulatory authorities seek consensus among themselves and with regulated (licensed) market players; (3) regulations are promulgated, revised (as necessary) and enforced – is no longer workable.This cascading tide of technological innovation – the background music of Uber moments, as it were, but playing at an ever quickening pace – a ords neither the regulatory authorities nor their licensed entities the luxury of adhering to the rhythms of their traditional, genteel three-step. Moreover, as previously discussed, an unquantifiable number of Kodak moments – i.e. unforeseeable yet transformative innovations that do not arise from or follow an articulable arc of technological development – will inevitably demand the ad hoc, stop-gap attention of both the regulator and regulated simultaneously. This dynamic necessarily places both sides ofthe regulatory community on the receiving end of innovative forces and technological trends that neither controls.Collectively, these developments, in combination, yielda new dynamic that, for the banking and financial markets, constitutes a Kodak moment. Fundamentally new challenges demand innovative solutions. A logical and adequate reaction to these profoundly changed circumstances would be a complete rethink of the relative positioning and interactions of the regulatory and regulated communities.If, earlier in its development, the compliance function – in a possibly misplaced but understandable e ort to establish itself as a “business friendly” support function to the front o ce – positioned itself to some degree in opposition to the regulator, then the exigencies of this industry sector’s collective Kodak moment have militated – or at least should have done so – a complete rethink of these premises. Conceptually and perhaps even structurally, the time has come for the regulatory compliance function to approach its common task from the vantage of an interpenetrated, if not wholly integrated, approach. Indeed, we’ve seen the first glimmers of these tendencies with the placement of Justice Department-appointed monitors in banks that became the subjects of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs).Taking into account the very real prospect of, in Antony Jenkins’ typology, a steadily-increasing pace of Uber moments punctuated by an unforeseen but no doubt significant number of Kodak moments, this would seem a modest proposal – i.e. a reconfiguration and consolidation of professional regulatory attention as mandated by profoundly-changed market circumstances. Given the rising tide of technological innovations likely to continue challenging the regulatory – including the in-house regulatory (compliance) – function, such fundamental changes to the structure and dynamic of ensuring robust regulatory oversight seem inevitable. Vladimir Berezansky was one of the first foreign professionals to bring Western (US, UK, EU) regulatory compliance leadership to the Russian/CIS/CEE financial services market. He has more than 15 years of work experience in Russia/CIS and Eastern Europe, as well as Cyprus, Switzerland and in London’s financial markets  

Business 05 Aug 2017

wine chateaus in the bordeaux?

Wine chateau's in the Bordeaux?France's most famous fine wine region has long drawn foreign investors, which in the last few years have included a steady stream of individual and corporate Chinese buyers. More than 100 chateau's are now Asian-owned, a mere grape in a pickers bucket when you consider some 7,000 wine-producing estates are spread across Bordeaux's many appellations. Nowadays, wineries are of particular interest as an alternative lifestyle investment in business, land & property with a return on invest.  But you are not just buying a country house. You are also buying a business. It may be the fanciest farming on the planet, The chateau and winery will not run themselves. You need the right people, and the wine has to be good enough to be salable. Owners have to work hard just to break even. It is tough for international buyers to get a loan from a French bank, so be prepared to pay cash. It is very important getting professional advice at each phase: before you buy, while finalizing the deal, and post-sale in managing your estate. A plan of the vineyards might reveal discrepancies and a mistake of half a hectare could make a big difference in the price. It is also important to do an audit winery equipment and debts. Also you will need to analyze the soil in the vineyard, check vines for disease, and make sure that plantings conform to French regulations.The most important question to ask before you buy is how you are going to sell your wine? Some chateaux's come with ongoing relationships with Bordeaux negociants, or importers, who buy the wines every year and distribute them internationally. But some do not. With 10 hectares of vines, you will produce about 60.000 bottles per year, and your friends and local restaurants can not buy them all. Owning a vineyard is a lifestyle. Yes you can make a profit and a ROI will come mainly from the property on an exit. In the mean time you have had a lot of fun. But the key is, get good trusted advice and good management. Entertain your friends and/or use it as a business platform. All in 1 hour flying from Paris (90 minutes from Amsterdam) and 2 hours by fast train (TGV). I have the experience running a vineyard for a foreign owner (8 years) and also selling to foreign buyers. Still interested? By the way, I also work with partners in The Provence and in Italy, so I can also help you with vineyards in those regions. Contact me.

Business 04 Aug 2017

chateau business = synergy and sharing

In this time and age we privately share our rooms and houses, our cars, our music and our holiday experiences.But how about in business?We tend to see other's businesses as competitors. But what if we join forces, inspire each other, create powerful connections and collaborate in to making this world better?The sum of parts is greater than the whole. Each part can still operate in it's own market, but by sharing idea's, network and knowledge we can all become stronger.On the backdrop of a beautiful surrounding vineyard landscape, in the most important wine region of the world, we have created an "office" which you can use for your business and facilitates interaction with other businesses if you want. For a day, for a few days per year, permanently. Good facilities for work, stay, eat, drink and besides hard work enjoy all Bordeaux has to offer. And all this at 90 minutes flying from Amsterdam (or Rotterdam) up to 6 times per day! Or high-speed train (TGV) only 2 hours from Paris!Also we offer you a range of services in which wine plays an important role. But you can also participate in our CSR programs giving something back to society or nature. The "office" is very quiet, in the countryside, off-grid, small scale and compact. Be inspired, develop new idea's, meet others. But also experience wine, food and all good that nature has to offer. If you to want visit the nearby village of St. Emilion (in the wine heartland of Bordeaux) or even Bordeaux city itself (elected by many as nr 1. tourist destination, but also start-up capital of France). Both are within easy reach. We are in the final stage of finding the last 10% funding. Interested? Please contact me and we can have a talk. Chateau Business = meet ---> share and inspire --->  accelerate your business and give back to the world 

Business 01 Aug 2017

virgin atlantic: where does it go from here?

Anyone who has endured economy class on Air France’s 'Caribbean configuration' Boeing 777s will be dreading the prospect that Virgin Atlantic might emulate it from Gatwick to Antigua and Barbados“It’s strange to think but Virgin Atlantic has now been flying for half my lifetime,” wrote Sir Richard Branson in his letter to the airline’s staff about the sale of 31 per cent to Air France.“I can still remember the day we started when Lord King from British Airways forecasted our early demise, claiming we were ‘too old to rock n roll, too young to fly’. Well, together we proved how wrong he was.”Fresh, distinctive, innovative: that sums up the airline created against all the odds by a young record-company mogul. “Virgin Atlantic has made a massive difference to people’s flying experience and changed the airline industry for the better,” says Sir Richard. He’s right. Starting with a single Boeing 747, Virgin Atlantic transformed transatlantic travel: an exclusive “bubble” on the Jumbo jets for Upper Class passengers, with free inflight massages, and free ice-cream with the movies down below. Europe’s first premium economy soon followed. By moving from Gatwick to Heathrow and cherry-picking British Airways’ prime routes, Virgin Atlantic became a thorn in the flag-carrier’s side.  BA responded with the so-called “Dirty Tricks” campaign, hacking into Virgin Atlantic’s reservations to divert business passengers from Virgin’s Upper Class to its own cabins; it resulted in what Sir Richard calls “the largest libel settlement in British history,” divvied up among Virgin employees as a “BA Christmas Bonus.”At the turn of the Millennium, the founder pocketed a cool billion pounds by selling a 49 per cent share to Singapore Airlines.But as the traditional airlines upped their games, and US carriers freshened up financially with Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the skies became more turbulent. After 9/11 and the 2008 economic dive, Virgin Atlantic struggled. Singapore Airlines sold on its holding to Delta, and frequent flyers began to complain that the shots were being called from Atlanta (Delta’s HQ) rather than Crawley, where Virgin Atlantic has always had its base. But the airline retained its identity.“Willie Walsh predicted that the Virgin Atlantic brand would disappear within five years as a result,” said Sir Richard. “Whether childishly or bravely, he also said he’d accept a knee in the groin from me if it didn’t. Well Willie, that five year point is up this December. And Virgin Atlantic is still flying strong.”By Simon Calder 

Business 27 Jul 2017

lvmh profit grows at fastest rate since 2011

LVMH Profit Grows at Fastest Rate Since 2011 as Asia ReboundsProfit from recurring operations rose 23 percent to €3.64 billion ($4.23 billion) in the first half, the French luxury goods conglomerate reported Wednesday.PARIS, France — LVMH, the world’s biggest luxury-goods maker, reported first-half profit in line with analyst estimates as earnings grew at their fastest rate since 2011.Profit from recurring operations rose 23 percent to €3.64 billion ($4.23 billion) in the first half, the owner of Louis Vuitton leather goods and Sephora cosmetics stores said Wednesday. Analysts expected €3.61 billion. Second-quarter sales rose 12 percent on an organic basis, slower than the first quarter’s 13 percent jump but above analyst predictions.Shares in the maker of luxury goods ranging from Tag Heuer watches to Veuve Clicquot Champagne are up about 20 percent since the start of the year, as investors have welcomed rebounding demand in China as well as a €6.5 billion deal for LMVH to take full control of Christian Dior, whose beauty business the company already owned. In May, LVMH surpassed energy giant Total SA to become France’s most valuable company.“LVMH has enjoyed an excellent first half, to which all our businesses contributed,” chief executive officer Bernard Arnault said in a statement. “In an environment that remains uncertain, we approach the second half of the year with caution.”The company said it benefited from rebounding demand in Asia, as well as from a favourable comparison base in its domestic market, which was hurt by a fall in tourism a year earlier.

Business 26 Jul 2017

michael kors agrees to buy jimmy choo

Michael Kors Agrees to Buy Jimmy Choo in $1.2 Billion Deal Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. agreed to buy Jimmy Choo Plc for about 896 million pounds ($1.2 billion), as the maker of handbags popular with the commuter set seeks to restore lost luster by adding “Sex and the City” stilettos.The purchase of Jimmy Choo, Michael Kors’ first deal to expand beyond its own brand name since its initial public offering in 2011, gives the New York fashion and accessories company a presence in higher-end luxury, in a move similar to Coach Inc.’s 2015 acquisition of shoemaker Stuart Weitzman. London-based Jimmy Choo rose to prominence in the late 1990s, boosted by high-profile devotees including the late Princess Diana and the fictional Carrie Bradshaw in television series “Sex and the City.” The deal comes amid consolidation in the U.S. luxury industry, with Coach also agreeing to buy Kate Spade & Co. this year.“Again, Michael Kors follows the path of Coach -- and again, on steroids,” wrote Luca Solca, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas. “After a meteoric rise and spectacular crash, it is now the time to recycle cash into other brands.”The company has been closing stores and reducing its exposure to department stores in an effort to boost its exclusivity. Alongside Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, Michael Kors has struggled to maintain its brand image after broadly distributing its products in discount stores and outlet malls. On the Macy’s website, for example, the brand’s signature $298 tote bags are currently sold for as low as $149.Jimmy Choo competes with the likes of Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin for the attention of fans of high-heeled women’s shoes, selling models like the $800 Lance. The brand gets its name from its Malaysian-born co-founder, who created it in 1996 with British designer Tamara Mellon and opened its first store in London a year later.JAB Holding Co., owned by the billionaire Reimann family, has committed to sell its 68 percent stake. The investment company bought Jimmy Choo for more than 500 million pounds in 2011 and later pared its holdings in a 2014 initial public offering. Before that, Jimmy Choo has been bought and sold by private-equity investors three times.In April, JAB said it was reviewing options for the shoe brand and leather-goods maker Bally International AG to step away from fashion and footwear. The company plans to focus on its food and beverage businesses, which has grown into one of the world’s largest coffee sellers through acquisitions of brands such as Caribou Coffee Co., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Panera Bread.Michael Kors will pay 230 pence a share for the luxury shoemaker, a premium of 18 percent over Monday’s close, the companies said Tuesday. The price is equal to about 13 times Jimmy Choo’s adjusted Ebitda for 2017, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Deborah Aitken.Michael Kors stock has lost about two-thirds of its value since peaking in February 2014. The stock had more than doubled in the two years prior. Jimmy Choo shares rose as much as 17 percent in London Tuesday, coming within 1 penny of the bid price. Michael Kors rose 2.8 percent to $35.90 in pre-market trading.“Jimmy Choo is a higher-end brand that gives Kors a bit more diversity,” said John Guy, luxury analyst and managing director at MainFirst Bank AG.The deal could be susceptible to a counter-offer, Guy said, as some minority shareholders are likely to hold out for a better price.BofA Merrill Lynch and Citigroup advised Jimmy Choo. Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase & Co. advised Michael Kors, which said it would keep Jimmy Choo’s existing management team, led by Chief Executive Officer Pierre Denis.

Business 25 Jul 2017

how cost-cutting increases costs

British Airways: a brilliant example of how cost-cutting increases costsIn the 1990s, Sir Colin – later Lord – Marshall, Chief Executive of British Airways was being interviewed by a journalist. The latter asked him, as leader of a famous brand, what he feared most. Sir Colin said something along these lines: “the pilots can be ill, the food can taste bad, the plane may be late and we lose the passengers’ baggage. I know I can fix these things and I will. But the thing I fear most is our Information Systems going down. We are critically dependent on our IT people for delivering our customer experience and for our survival. Our IT is of strategic importance and I keep my Chief Information Officer really close to me. Our IT is so important we would never outsource it.”Sir Colin was a deeply experienced leader who had invested very heavily in creating the unique British Airways’ customer experience for the “world's favourite airline”. He made mandatory attendance at a training program called Putting People First and attended in person at the end of every program to take employees’ questions. All those in leadership positions went through its sister program Managing People First and he attended that one too. A charismatic forthright, rigorous and determined leader, he made British Airways a customer driven company. Sadly, none of his successors have had the IQ or the EQ (nor the training he had as a Purser in P&O) to understand the world's favourite airline customer experience or to keep it going. Since the Marshall days the British Airways’ customer experience has been progressively eroded by a succession of cost cutters. We have had Ayling, Eddington, Walsh and now Alex Cruz who has just had what is probably the most catastrophic meltdown of any information systems in modern times. As a public relations disaster, it is up there with United’s Dr David Dao event.Here is a vignette of what it meant to one high-margin customer: The customer was flying from JFK to LHR in business class. Half an hour before the flight was due to leave, the information board said: “flight delayed”, and then soon after “cancelled”, without reason. The customer was told to go back through security to the BA desk, where BA’s staff had no idea that the flight has been cancelled or why.The customer was then told to collect his checked-in luggage from the returns area and “in the meantime the BA staff will look at other flight options”. The bag was returned last despite being a business class ticket holder, at which point the customer had to join the back of the queue (fortunately the priority queue) to check in for the next flight. Once at the front of the queue the desk agent told the customer that their new flight “is departing now”; he needed to rush for it. The customer checked with the check-in desk that the luggage would also make the flight, and the desk confirmed this. The customer then rushed to the departure gate and just made it before the doors were shut.After landing at LHR and waiting at the luggage belts it was apparent that his luggage had not make it onto the plane. On enquiring with the service staff about the location of the bag, there was no record of it. The customer filled out a lost bag form along with instructions to deliver the bag in the evening, as no one would be at home if the bag was returned in the daytime.The following day the customer received a text message from BA stating that their luggage would be delivered to his home address between 1pm and 3pm, a time when he was at work and was unable to receive it. Delivery was rescheduled for the evening of the next day. All-in-all a poor customer experience delivered by British Airways. Bad communication about the delay and subsequent cancellation of the flight. Followed by a poor procedure to rebook and recheck-in people and luggage. And then finally poor handling of the return of the luggage despite the customer being explicit about the time when they would be available to take delivery.Of course BA's competitors are in heaven but won't say it. Ryanair immediately took the opportunity to make public the fact that none of their IT is outsourced and that backups exist in three different countries.This sad story is all because of cost-cutting Cruz and his naive team who have now increased costs for British Airways. At time of writing the extra costs from the IT meltdown are estimated to be £120 million. You may assume that this figure will double or even treble when the costs of customers switching to other airlines, for ever, is taken into consideration. This will be far more than BA hoped to achieve by cost-cutting. Running a full-service airline using operational effectiveness techniques just does not work and never will. It is a major strategic error.I'm writing this on a British Airways plane, on the tarmac at Heathrow, away from the jetty, where we are waiting for take-off from Frankfurt. The plane has been delayed by two hours by thunderstorms in Germany. Not British Airways’ fault. But the cabin crew are still insisting we have to pay for the Marks & Spencer's food, rather than giving us free drinks and food as Virgin did when I experienced the same problem several years ago. They don't get it, nor clearly do their managers. It's not the crew’s fault but it is Cruz’s. Their managers are not encouraged to empower them, a key component of a high performing customer experience.I have been a member of British Airways Future Lab for over four years. This is the British Airways method for obtaining detailed feedback from customers. It is done via a special website and a series of questions we members answer every week. It appears most of the members are, like me, Gold Card holders. These are the 20% of customers who provide 80% of British Airways’ revenue.Over the last few months I have noticed a trend in the comments on Future Lab. Many are frustrated that British Airways does not seem to pay any attention to what we say and takes no action on our suggestions. This is despite that, from reading the comments, it is clear that members of Future Lab want British Airways to be successful and make the airline competitive, improving and to have an excellent customer experience.And it is not just the customers that are unhappy. Currently about 58 cabin crew are resigning at Gatwick every month; this is not sustainable. So here are a few messages for Messrs Cruz and Walsh.Firstly, Mr Cruz, resign. It happened on your watch, do the honourable thing get out of the way and let somebody who really understands how to run a full-service airline take on the job.Mr Walsh: find Cruz’s replacement from a decent airline; I recommend Cathay, Singapore or Emirates. If not, do what Apple did and go to a top-class hotel chain. They know how to create a branded customer experience.Stop trying to compete with the low-cost airlines; as I have said many times on Future Lab: THEY ARE NOT YOUR COMPETITION! Lufthansa, Cathay, Finnair, Qatar, Emirates, Singapore, United, Delta and Etihad are.Switch all of the energy that you currently devote to cost-cutting into reduction of any errors, waste and rework that is destroying the BA branded customer experience. Singapore Airlines is the best example of doing this but, if you cannot attract anyone from them, go to Nissan in Sunderland. They know how to reduce failure demand; that is demand on the system caused by failure (often called rework or doing it right the second time when you got it wrong the first time). The average organisation has 35% re-work, and cutting that delights customers, employees and shareholders. It also increases loyalty and profits. You will save far more money this way.Take a rigorous and very detailed look at the way you select, train, lead and subsequently develop your people. Focus selection on the right attitudes required to deliver the customer experience which itself is about 70% related to people and 15% to do with the product. Put in place lean methods for continuous improvement of the customer experience. The new Chief Executive needs to follow Sir Colin’s example and attend every training program to demonstrate how important they are to him.Take a leaf out of Ryanair's book: bring all of your information systems in-house and have at least three back-up systems in different countries so that if one goes down you have a failsafe back-up. Don't outsource it to India or to Spain, it is far too important to do that.Stop cutting the customer experience. Get rid of the Marks & Spencer's food and paying for it, you are not the ghastly Ryanair and should be moving in the opposite direction to the lightweight O’Leary. Then really make a very big deal about free baggage, free food and drink, easy-to-get-to airports and genuine service offering as in “To Serve To Fly”. Make your customer experience the centre of your differentiated service offering. Don’t copy, differentiate!Re-train all of your customer-facing staff and make the training mandatory and assessed. Get rid of some of the old deadwood (and goodness me there is plenty of it) and enhance the customer engagement with newly selected and properly trained staff. I've only ever handed out two Golden Tickets and one of them was to a ground crew person who sorted my lost baggage. Oh and for goodness sake pay them properly!  Make properly paid people the focus and the gathering of customer feedback the two issues that you pay attention to at the highest level. Do not focus on satisfaction but on the performance against what your customers expect. Get Future Lab to do that, using people who really do know how to do this; the current people in Future Lab obviously do not. It is not about satisfaction; that is an idea beyond its sell-by date. Engage much more at CEO level with British Airways Future Lab. Invite us to come and talk to you, in-depth and often. Bring us into your closest decision-making, listen to what we say carefully, act on it and go on using us. We are willing to do it for you (for nothing) providing that you engage with us.Don't outsource your call centres! They are critical to your customer experience and should be run by well-paid and well-motivated BA employees not by some people who do not understand your culture or how to delight your customers.Do that and you will have, just possibly, a chance to recover from this disaster.Fail to do so and Sir Colin will continue to spin in his grave. By: Rowan Jackson