Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life after Ripoll – what does it mean to your business? - Richard Kilpin – CEO of AFA

A Financial Planners Value Proposition:-
- Live to long – (ensure that they have adequate savings)
- Die too soon – (Life Insurance, TPD)
- Get Ill – (Income Protection)

A Financial Planner should
- give impartial advice to clients;
- help clients through tough decisions and events
- educate and coach
A Financial Planner provides Advice vs Selling Products.
Financial Planners have traditionally been paid by Product Providers vs getting paid by clients for services rendered. This could cause an inherent conflict of interest for the Financial Planner.

It is key that the Financial Planner has as part of his DNA the Trust, Respect and Transparency of his client.

The Ripoll Inquiry covered the following:-
- Role of Advisers
- Fees and Commissions
- Advice Documents
- Adequacy of PI

Recommendations of the Ripoll Inquiry
- The Financial Planner is to act in best interests of Clients
- Pay for value of Advice – not by Product
- Tax Deductability of Financial Planning Advice

In 2030
- Population is currently 22m – will be 35m
- Health is currently 4% - will be 7% of GDP
- 22% of population will be greater than 65
- Superannuation Currently 1.3 Trillion – it will probably be $5 trillion in 2020

There needs to be a major overhaul of tax and superannuation and infrastructure so that Australia will be able to plan for the future.

The Australian Government needs a roadmap for the next 50 years.


Financial Planners and Advisers will need to step up to the Plate and ensure they are
- adequately educated to manage and advise on these funds.
- there are systems and processes to cope with the above

Investment Markets - what to look for in 2010

Willliam Tomac Global Ventures International - speaking at the GENXT Roadshow – AFA Conference 10 Feb 10

GVI invests in quality intnl companies
colgate – good branding – endorsed by dentists, 75% revenue in emerging markets
Telefonica (Spain),
Exxon, Shell

What to look for in a Company

n• Looks to buy good quality businesses cheaply
• Either 1,2 or 3 in space and difficult to displace
• Transparent
• Good Point of Difference
• Regular and Increasing Dividends to Shareholders – generally outperform companies with low dividend yields re growth.

More than half of GVI’s holdings will increase dividends in 2009 - At the time of the last presentation on 13th August, some 51 out of 66 of GVI’s holdings had reported their results and of these 47 had delivered results that either met or exceeded analyst expectations. More significantly, 56% of GVI’s holdings are increasing their dividends for 2009. While another 39% have indicated that they will maintain their dividends for the year, with only 5% expected to cut their dividends. Those expected to cut their dividends are some of GVI’s more cyclical holdings, however their balance sheets remain strong and the quality of their businesses are high.

• Strong and Lazy Balance Sheets are good!!
• Grow earnings and Dividends over time
• Good Margins
• EBIT has consistent growth
• Strong Brand

Where to in 10 years?

Risky stocks will get nailed – go for quality and sustainability – with focus on emerging markets.

believes there will be a correction - probably won’t go to march 09 levels.. .but growth wont be like it was. upturn was emotion based not fundamentals based.

Inflation Expectations - means that bonds will look attractive -

Aus residential property most expensive - is it sustainable?

Commercial real estate in Aus - white elephant.

M&A will grow into the future . Large companies with strong management will be acquiring distressed businesses.
This happens typically after a recession where the shit is weeded out of the system.

Emerging and Developing Nations will play a key role over next 10 years.
Looks at Demographics, Infrastructure

Interesting change over the years… before Stocks were held for years… now average stock held for 7 months.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Is Avatar good for the Jews?

There's no doubt that it's very good for James Cameron who is making box office history. His latest sci-fi spectacle has amassed the biggest worldwide gross for any film, beating Titanic, the previous feature film also produced by James Cameron.
With so many people seeing it, discussing it, and analyzing every last nuance in it, it's relevant to ask the question that serves as the punchline for the old Jewish joke when the little boy ecstatically tells his immigrant father, “The Yankees won,” and the old man with bewildered expression responds, “But tell me, is it good for the Jews?”

For religious viewers there are many subtle messages in the film that beg for a theological response, be it pro or con. Not surprisingly, the spiritual overtones of Avatar were of interest in Vatican City, where the film was reviewed by Gaetano Vallini, a cultural critic for L’Osservatore Romano, the daily newspaper of the Holy See.

In his quite negative review, considered so important that it was reprinted in Catholic journals and newspapers round the world, Mr. Vallini wrote that for all of the “stupefying, enchanting technology” in the film, it “gets bogged down by a spiritualism linked to the worship of nature.” Its implied heresy overrides any other reasons to warrant approval for viewing.

Of course I can't speak for everyone (two Jews, three opinions), but this rabbi thinks it's a film you won't want to miss, precisely because of its myriad positive Jewish references and insights.

If Cameron never went to Hebrew school he surely had to discuss his work with a rabbi.
Watching it I had the feeling that if Cameron never went to Hebrew school he surely had to discuss his work with a rabbi. The connections with Torah, Midrash, and Hebrew words are just too frequent and striking to be accidental. And if anyone thinks I and the many others who have spotted the biblical allusions and the Jewish associations are reading too much into the story, seeing more than what’s there, it shouldn’t escape us that as one of those rare films meant to be watched ideally in 3-D, it literally begs to be viewed in every dimension, with keener vision and deeper understanding.

In the theater we have to put on glasses to better grasp the producer’s message. That is a perfect metaphor for our need to come prepared to “see” with what is often called “our third eye” – not just with the sight of our eyes but the insight of our minds.

It is a thrilling intellectual experience to note the little clues to Cameron’s intentions scattered throughout the movie.

The Na'vi

The name of the heroic people who live in the Garden-of-Eden-like planet of Pandora is Na'vi. I’ve had people tell me this couldn’t have anything to do with the Hebrew word navi that means prophet. After all there is no suggestion that these primitives were able to predict the future. But the truth is -- and it seems Cameron knew this -- the root word navi really means seer, someone with the capacity to see more than others. And that is exactly the point of the story.

With all of the technological prowess of the earthly invaders, the humans who came to despoil this new-found planet simply could not see what the far simpler and “less civilized” inhabitants recognized so clearly. The Na'vis worshipped not themselves or their achievements but a higher supreme power. And could it be mere coincidence that the name of the God they revered, eywa, is but the re-arranged letters of the Tetragrammaton, the holy four-letter name for the Almighty that Jews do not even dare to pronounce as written?

Man vs. God

The hubris of man who confuses technocracy with wisdom is a theme that continues to haunt Cameron, just as it was the pivotal premise for Titanic. “This is the largest ship ever built. It is a testament to modern man's genius. It is indestructible. We have finally and fully conquered nature. We are the masters of the universe.” That's what the builders of the Titanic repeatedly boasted before the luxury liner’s maiden voyage. But the iceberg was stronger. God's creation bested man's. Human arrogance was tragically humbled.

It was man the technocrat, in the age of the first industrial revolution of history, who proclaimed God as no longer relevant.

Titanic was a contemporary retelling of a powerful biblical story. Its theme goes back to the book of Genesis and the rebellion against God by the builders of the ancient Tower of Babel. Mankind had just learned how to build bricks, how to erect structures strong enough to withstand forces of nature. With the arrogance of man's first demonstration of his ability not to be totally subservient to the whims of his environment, he fooled himself into believing that he was nothing less than godlike. That was the generation that sought to build a skyscraper so tall that they would reach up and “pull God from his throne.” It was man the technocrat, in the age of the first industrial revolution of history, who proclaimed God as no longer relevant; the genius of human creators was deemed sufficient for ruling the world.
One of the biblical commentators of the 17th century even suggests that the builders of the Tower of Babel were smart enough to build a spaceship that could soar into the heavens, and in that way literally pull God off the seat of his power. That is almost precisely paralleled by what happened when the first cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, returned from his orbit of the earth and mockingly said, “There is no God. I was in the heavens and I did not see him.” Human arrogance rooted in scientific achievement led to the mistaken assumption that the power of man exceeds that of the Almighty.

Earth's Caretakers

With Avatar, Cameron takes this selfsame message one step further. Man's ego, man's greed, man's indifference to the purity of nature and its creator is a threat not only to earth but to all of the planets that surround us.
In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Cameron explained that he saw his movie as a metaphor. “We’re here, we’re big, we’ve got the guns, we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the brains, we therefore are entitled to every thing on this planet and beyond. That’s not how it works and we’re going to find out the hard way if we don’t wise up and start seeking a life that’s in balance with the natural cycles of life on earth.”

That's a message so crucial to our survival that the Torah repeats it in countless ways. Every seventh year the land is to remain fallow to remind us that we are merely its guests, not its owners. Every 50th year is the Jubilee when every Jew is to spend his time not in work but in study, to reflect upon our spiritual responsibility to ourselves, to our families, and to the world. If we are forced into waging war against our enemies, we are commanded not to cut down the trees of a city. (Deuteronomy 20:19)

The utter rapacity of the human alien invaders in Avatar is forcefully illustrated by the cruel disregard of the magnificent natural setting of Pandora. And yes, they even destroy “the holy tree” worshiped by the Na'vi. A planet like the Garden of Eden with a holy tree -- what a remarkable reminder of the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis which is off-limits to man to teach that God's knowledge is superior to ours.
More Connections

The Na'vi in Pandora have a mountain that “hangs over their heads.” The only parallel I can think of is the famous midrash that tells us when the Jews stood at Sinai and made their commitment to abide by God's laws, the mountain was lifted over their heads to tell them that the consequence of disobedience would be their destruction.

The Na'vi in Pandora even have a mountain that “hangs over their heads.”
The human aliens in Avatar are mighty, with awesome weapons of warfare. The Na'vi defend themselves with primitive bows and arrows. And yet they succeed. And that too is a biblical message: “Not with might and not with strength, but with my spirit says the Lord” (Zechariah, 4:6).

The savior of the Na'vi and the film's hero is, remarkably enough, a man with a physical disability. In the Bible it was Moses, “heavy of speech and heavy of tongue,” who was sent as deliverer. In spite of his impairment, he got across the message. In the movie it is a Marine who cannot walk but who nonetheless leads the Na'vi to successfully defend their way of life and to walk in the way of their ancestors.

Yes, the Na'vi religion with its worship of nature is a little too close to the pantheism of Spinoza to make Jews feel comfortable. Yes, the Na'vis are still pagans, and like the church I freely acknowledge there are ideas in Avatar that are not in accord with our own belief system. But at long last I am grateful for a movie that can serve as a powerful springboard for valuable discussion, for a deeper clarification of Torah ideas and for an analysis of issues that go to the core of our search for spiritual perfection.

Some BFO's (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious)for Small Business

from anthill

We live in a world with a million possible distractions, pressures, emergencies and interruptions. How can we possibly stay sane and focused on our goals?

There are always going to be several things constantly competing for your time – marketing campaigns to design, team members to manage, customers to respond to, business opportunities to explore, issues to follow up, personal commitments, etc. However, whenever you try to work on too many things at the same time, inevitably none of them ever get done – or done well.

To assist you in staying on track and keeping things simple, I’ve developed the following list of five simple techniques/questions to keep things in perspective. When in doubt, check this list for guidance.

1.Has anyone died?
If not, relax and calm down. As long as no one has died, it’s really not that serious and there is a solution to every challenge you face.

2.Am I trying to eat an elephant in one sitting?
Breaking things into bite-sized chunks makes the world of difference. Having broad, high-level goals is good, but having an actionable plan is essential. A detailed, step-by-step plan can help you identify how you can get from where you are to where you want to be. Remember, a journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step.

3.Am I in a bad neighbourhood?
If you are not in a good place emotionally, change your physiology immediately. That means get up and get moving – put on your favourite song or do the “dance of joy”. Whatever it takes, do it now.

4.Am I grateful for what I already have?
It is impossible to bring more of what you want into your life if you are feeling ungrateful about what you already have. It has been said that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. In many ways, gratitude is a bit like that – it’s not what you say, the mere words that count, but sum of the words and the heartfelt emotion behind them.

5.Am I focused on what I want or don’t want?
Whether we realise it or not, we are visualising things all the time – visualising either what we want or don’t want. If you are relentlessly focused on the negative outcome and are riddled by fear, that will affect your reality.
It’s very easy to get so caught up in the emotion of emergencies, disruptions and day-to-day activities that you can easily lose sight of what is most important to your success and wellbeing. These simple tips and questions will help you stay more in touch with what is most essential to your future. Most importantly, these techniques – and keeping a sense of humour – are vital to helping you stay focus on your ultimate goals.

Rhondalynn Korolak is a lawyer, chartered accountant, clinical hypnotherapist and Master of NLP and is an expert at business acceleration and the power of influence. She is the author of On The Shoulders of Giants and Financial Foreplay.