Secrets to business survival: ‘always look at new ways to innovate’

Family businesses are often best suited to longevity. But product development, investing in staff and attention to detail help in a recession

Founded in 1860, awnings and blinds manufacturer James Robertshaw has seen its fair share of internal change and economic upheaval. The company also survived a major fire, in 1933. A feat managing director Nigel Sharrock, who took on the role in 1979, brushes off. “Fires were a common occurrence in those days,” he says.

Sharrock took over from his father-in-law, who bought the business from the Robertshaws in 1960. The company, which has 24 staff, has also changed location a few times. Its most recent base is a factory unit in Bolton where all products are designed and manufactured. It is still a family business, with Nigel’s wife Lesley, and son, Matthew, on the board. Sharrock says its 157-year survival lies in constant innovation, new machinery, family values and business sense.

Related: School’s out, GCSE results are in, now’s the time to hire an apprentice

Continue reading…

New European Regulations Set To Crush Equity Research Budgets By $300 Million

Literally no one knows the true ‘value’ of equity research, not even the investment banks that are selling it.  Up until now, equity research has been treated as a ‘freebie’ given away to institutional clients in return for trading commissions but that is all about to change thanks to the European Union’s MiFID II regulations, which require asset managers to separate trading commissions from investment-research payments.

Unfortunately, at least for the Investment Banks of the world, while the cost of generating equity research may be substantial, it turns out that the true ‘value’, as defined by institutional clients’ maximum willingness to pay for reports, may be much less.  Which is shocking given the creativity required to constantly generate new variations of daily reports politely suggesting that you “Buy The Fucking Dip.”

As Bloomberg notes today, the regulatory change slated to take effect next January could cost the I-banks $300 million in fees.

Asset-managers in Europe and the U.S. will probably cut more than $300 million from research budgets in anticipation of regulations aimed at rooting out conflicts of interest in the market for investment information.


That’s according to a survey of 99 fund managers and traders conducted by consulting firm Greenwich Associates, which assessed the shake-up coming to the multi billion-dollar market for investment research over the next year.


The European Union’s MiFID II regulations, which require asset managers to separate trading commissions from investment-research payments, will have a “clearly negative” impact on the amount of commission money that is spent on research and advisory services, according to the Stamford, Connecticut-based firm’s findings released Tuesday. While the budget cuts will be “relatively modest” at individual asset-managers, research providers across the board fear the new law will prompt “a substantial decrease” in buy-side spending.

Equity Research


The findings equate to a 7% drop in overall commission spend for European institutions and a 5% drop in the U.S.. Those reductions would contribute to a nearly $200 million decrease in U.S. research commission spend and a decrease of more than 100 million euros in Europe.

While the rules are technically only applicable within the confines of the European Union, U.S. asset managers with substantial business in the U.K. and Europe are also preparing for the changes and are choosing to adopt global standards.  Meanwhile, more than half of U.S. survey participants and almost three quarters in Europe expect the rules to result in a slimming of their counterparty list for research and advisory services. Moreover, 40% of U.S. respondents and more than 50% of European ones expect to limit the number of brokers they trade with.

Equity Research


In response to the changing regulatory environment, Macquarie recently launched a new a la carte product, called “Macquarie Dimension” that allows institutional clients to purchase research reports, managements meetings, analyst calls, etc. on a pay-as-you-go basis.  Per Bloomberg:

Macquarie Group Ltd. is trying a new way to charge clients for research: unbundling it.


The Australian bank introduced a service this year that helps solve two problems facing asset managers: they have to trade a lot before getting access to research from big brokers; and regulations taking effect next year will prohibit that kind of arrangement. The new a la carte system, called “Macquarie Dimension,” provides access to research reports, corporate meetings and phone calls with analysts on a pay-as-you-go basis alongside its usual equity-research offerings.


The move is part of a broader trend where specialized financial companies are struggling to find ways to pay for work their clients used to fund with trading piggybacks. The new approach meets Macquarie’s goal of servicing more accounts and monetizing its content, Peter Bentley, managing director at Macquarie Dimension, said in an interview last week at Bloomberg’s New York headquarters.


Bentley sees opportunity in what he calls “regulatory tailwinds” and a chance to service under-appreciated clients. Macquarie isn’t “trying to be particularly disruptive about how people consume research, but we are trying to be innovative in how to commercialize it,” he said.

Of course, as we said before, almost any amount of money seems, at least to us, to be too much to have the same people give you the same advice over and over again, namely “buy more stocks, faster.”  There, we just summarized 90% of all equity research that will ever be written for the rest of history in 4 simple words and completely free of charge.  You’re welcome.

Single market exit: UK construction ‘could lose 175,000 EU workers’

Key projects could be in jeopardy if Britain does not retain access to European single market after Brexit, surveyors warn

The UK construction industry could lose more than 175,000 EU workers – or 8% of the sector’s workforce – if the country does not retain access to the European single market after Brexit, the government has been told.

Such an outcome could put key infrastructure and construction projects at risk at a time when the sector was also facing other pressures, including the tax changes in the recent budget, said the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

Continue reading…

After Destroying Cambodia, The US Wants The Country To Repay It For The Bombs They Dropped

Authored by Nika Knight via,

Cambodians are responding with outrage to the U.S. government’s demand that the country repay a nearly 50-year-old loan to Cambodia’s brutal Lon Nol government, which came to power through a U.S.-backed coup and spent much of its foreign funds purchasing arms to kill its own citizens, according to Cambodia’s current prime minister Hun Sen.

While the U.S. was backing the Lon Nol government, it was also strafing the Cambodian countryside with bombs—a carpet-bombing campaign that would eventually see over 500,000 tons of explosives dropped on the small Asian country, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and leaving a legacy of unexploded ordnances.

“[The U.S.] dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF [International Monetary Fund] not to lend us money,” Hun Sen said at an Asia-Pacific regional conference earlier this month.


“At the same time the U.S. was giving weapons to Lon Nol, it was bombing the Cambodian countryside into oblivion and creating millions of refugees fleeing into Phnom Penh and destroying all political fabric and civil life in the country,” former Australian ambassador to Cambodia Tony Kevin told Australia’s ABC.


“And all of this was simply to stop the supplies coming down to South Vietnam, as it was then, from the north,” Kevin added. “So the United States created a desert in Cambodia in those years, and Americans know this.”

Hun Sen has argued that the U.S. has no right to demand repayment of its “blood-stained” funds.

“Cambodia does not owe even a brass farthing to the U.S. for help in destroying its people, its wild animals, its rice fields, and forest cover,” wrote former Reuters correspondent James Pringle for The Cambodia Daily.

In fact, during his tenure as prime minister Hun Sen has asked the U.S. to drop the “dirty debt” several times, but American leaders have refused.

“[The] U.S. would not drop it. It would have been so easy to forgive the repayment, it would have been easy to refinance it for education like they did in Vietnam,” the reporter Elizabeth Becker, who covered the Cambodian genocide in the 1970s, told Al Jazeera.

“The U.S. intervention in Cambodia was easily the most controversial that we had in that era,” Becker said. “[The U.S.] dragged Cambodia into the Vietnam War for hopes that by expanding it they could win, the complications now are that even 50 years later, the Khmer Rouge legacy is horrible.”

“The U.S. owes Cambodia much more in war debts that can be repaid in cash,” Becker argued to The Cambodia Daily.