OBSERVATIONS

Observations

A behind the scenes look at financial services

They said it:

24-Feb-2017

“I’ve got to say I’ve never made more revisions to a set of slides than this presentation here today because things have been changing pretty much on a daily basis.”

SuperConcepts technical services and education general manager Peter Burgess relates how difficult it was preparing superannuation presentations during the back half of last year before the final legislation was passed.

Rise of the machines

05-Jan-2017

Midway through last year BT Financial Group hosted an adviser roadshow covering the latest technological developments and how some elements, such as big data, are being used within the financial services field.

During the session a short video was played demonstrating how artificial intelligence was being used in the robotic world.

It had never dawned on this reporter that a financial services presentation could show him the origin of the terminator concept and what sparked the rise of the machines, but that’s exactly what appeared to be happening.

The short video showed a robot walking along a factory floor minding its own business and then suddenly getting kicked over by a human being.

The robot resiliently, albeit very slowly, manages to get back on its feet, only to be knocked over rather violently by the human again.

This process happened three or four times and was shown to demonstrate how the robot could react to adversity, right itself, and continue performing its set task.

We couldn’t help but think if the robot had the ability to utilize artificial intelligence it would have gotten pretty sick of that human being and fought back.

The only thing missing was that the robot did not have human skin on its frame, nor did it look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Perhaps if a video is made to show further progress in a year or so that’s what we will see.

However, none of the BTFG presenters said “I’ll be back”.

Desperately seeking financial advice

05-Jan-2017

December saw the usual number of Christmas drinks for media generously put on by financial services firms.

There were some variations on themes in order to avoid run of the mill festive season drinks, with Challenger inviting members of the fourth estate to view “Nude”, a collection of artworks depicting nudity, at the Art Gallery of NSW.

While on the subject of the exhibition, one particular painting caught this scribe’s attention but not for the reasons you’d consider obvious.

It was a piece called Double Nude Portrait painted by Sir Stanley Spencer, depicting the artist and his second wife Patricia Preece.

Nothing seemed too special about it until the gallery guide explained the story behind the painting.

Apparently Sir Stanley had left his first wife for Ms Preece only to find out after the marriage she was a lesbian, meaning the poor man never got to consummate his marriage.

Further, it was revealed young Patricia convinced him to sign over his house to her as well as most of his money.

And if that wasn’t enough she eventually kicked him out of the house but still managed to have him continue handing his money over to her.

Upon hearing the story, this writer concluded people like Sir Stanley Spencer desperately needed the help of a financial adviser back in 1937.

Considering his poor decision making due to being besotted with Preece, having a financial planner may not have been able to save him – but it certainly would have helped.

They said it:

05-Jan-2017

“Often what I’ll get from some of the trustees is for them to sit back and say ‘my kids should be happy they’re getting anything – stuff ‘em’.”

BT Financial Group senior manager product development life insurance Jeffrey Scott relates his experience as to whether self-managed superannuation fund trustees want to pass any wealth on to the next generation through their super fund.

Going for gold in WA

11-Nov-2016

Industry professionals looking for a more historical perspective on money will appreciate that three of Australia’s rarest and most sought after coins are currently being exhibited by the nation’s official bullion company, The Perth Mint, until next month.

The coins are among Australia’s most famous rarities and include a 1930 penny, an 1852 Adelaide pound type I and an 1852 Adelaide pound type II.

Collectively valued at close to a quarter of a million dollars, the coins will be available for purchase at The Perth Mint shop in East Perth until 27 November.

Perth Mint group manager of minted products Neil Vance says the coins are well-known, “prized pieces” in Australia’s currency history.

“[They are] prized by investors and collectors as they are seldom seen on the market,” Vance says.

“It is a real privilege to showcase these incredible treasures and we encourage visitors and local residents to come into The Perth Mint to see these remarkable artefacts.”

Recognised as Australia’s most renowned rare coin, the 1930 penny’s reputation stems from the mystery surrounding its accidental minting, as the copper coin was never struck for circulation, according to Melbourne Mint’s records.

The 1852 Adelaide pound, on the other hand, was Australia’s first unofficial gold coin, struck by the province of South Australia in a bid to alleviate the currency crisis caused by the gold rush.

However, only 40 of the type I variety were ever made, as a crack was discovered on the surface of the coins midway through the production process.

This led to the creation of the 1852 Adelaide pound type II, but only 200 of these remain as the vast majority of the 25,000 coins produced were exported to London by profiteers and melted down.

Up and running with CoAssets

11-Nov-2016

At a recent media breakfast in Sydney to celebrate the ASX listing of Asian crowdfunding investment platform CoAssets, co-founders Getty Goh and Seh Huan Kiat told an interesting story about how they met.

Rather than the typical start-up networking event or meeting through a common employer, it was while running an ultramarathon in China that the two first came up with the idea of a platform where retail investors could crowdfund investment projects.

Kiat said he and Goh often had to run into the night during the gruelling challenge and were unable to shower during the week-long race – after all, nothing enables you to get to know a person well enough to decide if you can go into business with them than having to endure their stench after five days of running with no shower.

However, since everybody in the race was blessed with the same odour, apparently it wasn’t a problem.

Once an ultramarathon devotee, Kiat said he also completed a 100km run through the desert in Texas before the demands of raising children forced him to rein in his passion for running.

The sedentary lifestyle of working in technology has obviously taken its toll, as Goh jokingly said back in his marathon days Kiat was “at least half the weight he is now”.

They said it...

11-Nov-2016

“It should actually be my wife standing up here because I don’t decide how the money gets spent, I only ensure it’s available – much like in my home life.”

Speaking at an Art Gallery of New South Wales viewing of Hugh Ramsey’s painting “The Foil” earlier this month, ECP Asset Management’s Manny Pohl gives a humorous account of how his charitable foundation came to restore the artwork.

Future2 wheels out planner fundraiser

07-Sep-2016

Future2 is holding its Wheel Classic flagship fundraiser in November, with financial planners donning their helmets to support Australia’s disadvantaged youth.

The charity bike tour will take place in Western Australia from 17 to 23 November and will conclude in time for the FPA’s Professionals Congress, which kicks off on 23 November, in Perth.

Future2 Chair Matthew Rowe says the event will test the endurance of Australia’s financial planners on a circular route spanning Perth, Bunbury, Margaret River, Bridgetown, Collie and Mandurah.

“The Future2 Wheel Classic is an important initiative in our calendar as it presents planners with the chance to give back to the community and help those who are socially and financially disadvantaged,” Rowe says.

“This event is also an opportunity for planners to get away from their desks, take in the sights of Perth and network with their peers.”

Now in its seventh year, the Wheel Classic has raised over $585,000 for charity to date.

It was founded with the aim of providing hope and support to those less fortunate, with Future2 encouraging all participants to raise $1000 for the foundation.

According to Future2, the 2016 fundraiser is off to a strong start, wwith riders having already raised $14,000 for this year’s event.

In addition, 11 riders have already signed up for the ride, including new FPA head of education Shaun Weston-Cole.

Past Wheel Classic cycling routes have included Sydney to Brisbane last year, Melbourne to Adelaide (2014), Melbourne to Sydney (2013), Sydney to Melbourne (2012) and Bourke to Sydney (2010 and 2011).

Future2 says this year’s event will also demonstrate the company’s support for the FPA’s grants program, visiting West Australian grant recipients along the way.

Among the highlight stops in this year’s event will be The Esther Foundation’s not-for-profit café, which helps young women who have come from difficult situations develop skills and gain work experience in hospitality.

Boy in the bubble

07-Sep-2016

It was a full house at the recent Financial Services Council 2016 Leaders’ Summit in Melbourne for the conference’s keynote speaker, Gold Logie winner and The Project host Waleed Aly, who had made headlines just the day before with his pleas on the popular TV program for tolerance on the back of the recent European terrorist attacks.

Aly spoke in his typically eloquent and measured fashion on the subject of communication and diversity, both of which had been significant themes running across the Summit’s broader program of industry workshops.

Using the example of his own transition from the world of law to academia, Aly illustrated the point that within certain professions, socio-economic or cultural groups, there was always a ‘bubble’ in terms of the way groups communicated with each other, whether it was the jargon they used or the status afforded to particular positions.

“When I was in law we used to talk about how good it would be to get a job at [law firm] Mallesons, but realistically if you were to talk to an ordinary person on the street, they wouldn’t know the difference between having a job at Mallesons or Legal Aid,” he said.

On entering academic life he realised how little the terms and positions of the legal fraternity meant to those outside it – while instead there was a whole new hierarchy of which academic departments held more power or social status, and in which research journals his peers had been cited or published.

Aly pointed out that the same phenomenon applied to financial services as a profession, as well as to the different economic or cultural sub-sets of society he dealt with as audience members or fellow panellists in his role on The Project.

A famous non-participator on social media site Twitter, Aly also cautioned against the tendency for ‘bubbles’ in media and Australia’s national identity.

“By definition, the ability social media gives us to curate everything we read and watch means that there is no one set of facts for everyone anymore,” he said.

“The world is getting more and more diverse, not just in terms of immigration but also diversity of thought, so we need to understand how to interact with all groups of people, not just our own.”

They said it...

07-Sep-2016

“There are so many young hipsters here tonight, I thought about taking my socks off before I got up here.”

Sunrise star and financial commentator David Koch addresses a crowd of ankle-baring gen Y advisers at the recent XY Adviser Modern Client event.