The Best Job in the World?

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Written on 9/26/2008 02:45:00 pm by sikapitan

I was told by someone that when he was in University, when people talk about Finance, the immediate association would be banker. And banker here does not mean your sexy Investment Banker, but actual bread-and-butter deposit, loan etc. banking.

Nowadays, there’s a myriad of opportunities for those who did Finance or its ilk in university. Everyone wants to be an Investment Banker, and for good reasons too.

The world economy has moved beyond the simple import export of goods and services. Some very clever folks have decided that simply dealing with real, tangible products are no longer enough to satisfy their lust for money.

So they created the futures market, short-selling and other kinds of financial razzmatazz that deals not with the present, real and tangible. Instead, the vast amount of liquidity going around the world these days are based on perception, on anticipation, on hedging for the future and sometimes, just plain old speculation.

What this means is that the market is never rational and never perfect (Adam Smith would be disappointed, no?). And that means it works based on the herd mentality. Once a sign is picked up by everyone that the market is heading for a bull run, they will immediately act upon it. In other words, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

IB folks are smart, no doubt about it. But they are also not immune to follow the herd, simply because if they don’t, and based their assessment on the plain old “boring” fundamentals, they might lose out to their peers. And losing out here means losing a huge paycheck at the end of the year.

This is what pisses me off a bit about all these Finance and Investment Bankers and Analysts. They get paid for the performance of their portfolio in any given year, and in a bull market, the payout could be astronomical. Unfortunately, the reverse is not true. If next year that very same portfolio loses value (most of the time back to square one, or even worse, a negative figure), the payout given in the earlier years would not be returned.

Gordon Gecko: Not an Investment Banker, but runs Wall Street...damn cool!

Some might argue that this is the same for every profession and you can only get compensated for your current performance. But actually, it’s not. If I get a bonus for sales, I have already done the sale, and I have already completed by KPI. If I manage to settle a case, I would get a portion of a done deal. There’s no more follow-up per se. But with investment, it takes years and years, so why should IB folks get compensated for an increase in value for one year when that value is not sustainable in the long run?

The yachts, the houses, the trophy wives, the fancy cars…will still remain with these guys. True, they run the risk of getting fired. But the effect of their actions affects a whole lot more people who have entrusted their hard earned savings on to this people who then proceeded to speculate and manipulate the market until one find day, and unfortunately it’s today, the fundamentals would catch up with them.

Anyway, this note is just an expression of my frustration with what’s going on with the world economy nowadays….so it’s a bit disjointed and ….well, I’m tired too with this heavy but exciting new job scope.

Hope that this does not discourage anyone from taking Finance. I might need a CFO one day for my company.

25 Years & Counting

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Written on 9/22/2008 10:39:00 am by sikapitan


Ripley's Believe it Or Not: That's Najmie Noordin

First of all, thanks for the wishes. I guess with everyone on Facebook, it’s easier to remember (or be reminded) of birthdays. Special thanks to the wonderful souls who managed to squeeze in a few minutes to wish me on the stroke of midnight and those who called. I wouldn’t do the same…and that’s sad… (but I will try).

I was told that no one really famous was born on 21st September. I checked, and unfortunately, they’re right. Brad Pitt, Hitler, Mandela, Clinton and the rest of the world’s most famous people…nope, not on the 21st. Of course there’s a list of famous people born on the 21st, but none are…legendary. I guess that will have to change sooner or later right?

Only one notable person that I don't mind being associated with
sharing a birthday: Liam Gallagher..


On that note, I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry on Virgo, the astrology sign. I had a laugh reading through the characteristics listed as associated with us Virgos:
  1. Analytical / critical / insightful
  2. Precise / meticulous / anal-retentive
  3. Orderly / methodical
  4. Practical / pragmatic
  5. Mental / intelligent / inquiring
  6. Responsible / reliable
  7. Perfectionist
  8. Shrewd / witty / clever
  9. Conservative / conventional
  10. Refined / polite / well mannered
  11. Hygienic / clean
  12. Reserved / cool / undemonstrative
This is what pisses me a bit about astrology. I mean, you lump together these general traits, and any sane person is bound to tick a majority of it. Anyway, I’m confused about my own traits so I shall leave this to those who know me best.

25 Years Review

I had fun at High School, and did well enough in my studies. I had MORE fun at University, and came away with a law degree. I am now working hard, learning far too many things in too short of a time, but I kind of like that. I have friends, and they still take the time to watch football with me. I am independent (partially). I am married. I am a father-to-be. I am still 25 years old. Damn.

Manchester United

I almost had the perfect birthday gift yesterday, but Manchester United continued to frustrate the hell out of me with their insistence on defending deep on a lead and playing direct football. United controlled the game in the 1st 25 minutes because they were willing to pass the ball, willing to attach, forming intricate triangles to bamboozle Chelsea’s expensively assembled midfield.

Then, through their own sheer stupidity or Ferguson’s, they decided to drop deep and defend with two backs of four. At least Van Der Sar was removed before he could do further damage, and I guess that’s what saved us from defeat.

Van Der Sar: Only good for Penalties?

Interesting observation: Kalou scored for Chelsea from a stupid freekick given by an incompetent referee. Notice how all the defenders pushed up, with Rio leading the line? That’s why they were insistent that Kalou was offside. He wasn’t. Because Dimitar “Dracula” Berbatov didn’t follow the line. He was slow last night, a bit like a lumbering giant, who couldn’t fathom why United were asking him to win headers.

Fergie, get your act right (And get Carrick fit…asap).

...

A 24-hour convenience store that almost isn't...

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Written on 9/15/2008 12:40:00 pm by sikapitan

Once they were deemed forever doomed with the emergence of all the Hypermarkets. Now they’re ubiquitous with presence in almost all major townships. In fact, here at USJ, we have 1 for every housing area.

So imagine how pissed I was when I went to one last Sunday morning after futsal and found that the outlet was closed. No, it wasn’t “officially” closed. Just that the store assistants decided to “temporarily” close it (from 2 a.m – 6 a.m…).


The sign was written on a piece of A4, looks cheap and we could all see the two store assistants inside doing I don’t know what with a bunch of products on the floor at the back of the store.

I thought, okay, maybe there’s something wrong with the machine and all. But imagine my surprise that as soon me and my friend turned our back, a few more cars stopped in front of the store. I remarked, “Looks like we’re bringing in the business…”.

Imagine my bigger surprise when I saw the store assistant sheepishly calling us back after noticing that there’s going to be a sort of mini riot (hell, there’s more than 5 people out there at 3 a.m pissed about a closed 7-11).

Was there something wrong with the teller machine? Nope. Anything wrong with the air-conditioning? Nope. Were they out of stock of everything? Nope. So the only reason the two clowns almost turn away potential customers was…nothing. There was no reason other than sheer laziness.

I’m pretty sure the management would be pretty pissed if they found out about this.

The whole concept of 7-11 is that it is a 24 HOURS convenience store. Get that into the thick skull of these lowly motivated store assistants.


Here’s a business idea: Introduce an incentive scheme that is directly related to sales. For every RM 50 of sales, the person who serviced the customer would get RM 1. If you think that a normal Hotlink top-up would cost RM 30, then you’ll see that these guys could be earning a lot, IF they have the right incentive in place to promote sales.

Imagine the store assistant initiating cross-selling and up-selling. Imagine buying a bottle of Coke and the guy saying, “Hey, would you like to try cracker X, because it taste great with Coke…”. Or something like that.

In the future, advertising is no longer sufficient. You need people marketing.

Lessons from around the world

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Written on 9/10/2008 02:32:00 pm by sikapitan

In Thailand, embattled Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej was forced out from office by the country’s Constitutional Court. If you think the Courts found him guilty of graft, corruption, abuse of power, blowing up girls with bombs or inciting religious hatred, think again.


The Constitutional Court actually found him guilty of violating the Constitution by appearing in a cooking show and accepting payment for it! A freaking cooking show!


What's Cooking?


If that’s not funny, ponder this: As a replacement to the dismissed Samak, guess who would the ruling P.P.P government nominate to fill in the vacancy? Why, it’s Samak Sundaravej! Sounds crazy, but it’s possible in Thailand.



Now over to the land of “serious” democracy, the United States of America, the race to the White House continues to be a tight one but only in America, where it really matters.


Apparently, a majority of the world’s population wants Barack Obama to be the next President of the United States. Polls conducted by GlobeScan puts him at 47% average approval rating over McCain’s measly 12%. That means for every one McCain supporter, we have FOUR Obama supporters (including moi).


But do the Americans feel the same? In the U.S, both candidates are neck-to-neck, despite the Republican’s disastrous two terms under President Bush and despite McCain’s old age, antiquated world view, and general lack of charisma, the Republican campaign is still buzzing along merrily.


It’s a mystery to most of us outside of the U.S why such an obvious choice be so “not obvious” to the average Americans.


Well, just like we accuse them of viewing things locally and in isolation, we also tend to view the US for what they do internationally and in relation to other nations. We failed to appreciate that, despite their global presence; America is just like any other nation in the world with its own unique domestic subtext.


We dismiss the existence of a rising Christian community in the U.S. We ignore the number of registered gun owners. We forget the deep insecurities jobless Americans face through globalization. We laugh at the hillbillies and rednecks, but they’re still voters.


Our view of America is shaped by Desperate Housewives (Bree must be a Republican), Gossip Girl and other shows that perpetuates some myth about America being the land of the promiscuous, the prosperous and the glamorous. The reality is there could be just as many Joe Dirts as there could be Seth Cohens , if you get what I mean.


So don’t be surprised that McCain is still in it. After all, they can’t understand our fascination with sodomy either.