Category Archives: Investments

The Rogue Trader

We had a wonderful Christmas fair.I was in charge of the books. It was lovely being around books and seeing people still interested in them. One member of the church who helped in setting the books came across “Rogue Trader” by Nick Leeson. He told me not to get any ideas. Today the sermon in church was about stories that we tell other people about ourselves. I would rather not discuss the stories of my work. In 2006 I looked forward to the columns by Geraint Anderson. I could relate to a few stories. Some I thought were fiction. I was in the industry for two years when his columns started to come out. I looked forward to what he had to write. I was naive then. Years on from then and a lot less hair I have come to realise it is much worse. Rules are bent every which way. Banks, law firms and tax advisors figure out ways to help their client to minimise tax payment. The High Net Worth people will always end up paying less tax than normal people.Relationship managers don’t want to know whether rules are broken. They just choose to selectively ignore facts. People act like your friends as long as you are of use to them. After that, they do not care. I love investments and investing. I don’t like the world of investments. It is a world where you lose your soul. It is a world where you do not know who to trust. People over there deserve to go through the refiner’s fire. I will not come out unscathed. I have been asked to hide the truth. I have been told to lie to people about the reasons for not getting into investments. Sometimes I feel like bursting out. If I knew what the impact of it would be then I may let myself explode. Until then I may just keep quiet until the burden of that weighs me to death or to the point I will have no option but to reveal all.

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Filed under Banking, Compliance, Family Office, FATCA, Investments, Private Banking, Regulations, Tax Avoidance

The wind has subsided

It is with deep regret that I have decided to halt my progress in NaNoWriMo. Sadly reality is significantly stronger than fantasy. Life and death gets in the way. When my world and characters take over my mind and thoughts than the people who matter then there is a problem. I have enjoyed this process and NaNoWriMo gave me the impetus that I needed. One of my characters now has turned from a figment of my imagination to someone who breathes. Other characters came into his life who I never thought of. I have dealt with and killed a few demons that haunted me. I should admit that I found it satisfying although I wish that I made them suffer more before killing them. I have created a world.Religions and customs have started to form. I came across a quote which said that everyone has one good book in them but that’s where it should stay. I hope that I will have more than one book in me and the time will come when I can set it free. I like the process of writing and would love to be called an author. There is truth to writing even if it is fantasy. I would dare say that fantasy is more honest. Characters hate people. They love others. You will know if people like your book or hate it. Some of my favourite books are by Raymond Feist. One of the worst series and books is also by him. In the world of investments you never know who your friends are and who are your well wishers. You maintain relationships because you never know when you will need to wipe the dust off that business card to get some information that will make a big difference. You never know what people think of your ideas.

Ithaca by Constantine Cavafy is one of my favourite poems. I know my destination. NaNoWriMo was the wind that caused my ship to anchor off. I do not know how I will get there or when nor who I will meet on the way. I will finish my novel which has a working title of “The priests of Konkor.” At the risk of sounding too cliche; “Watch this space.”

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Filed under Fantasy, Investments, NaNoWriMo, Novel, Poetry, Raymond Feist, Writing

Preview England vs. Windies Test match.

I am looking forward to this test series. West Indies wants to rebrand themselves and be known as Windies now. That rebranding did not help them as Pakistan beat Windies convincingly in the West Indies. Except for the test that Windies won; the Pakistan bowlers decimated the Windies. However it is a different story in their tour matches. Their batsman have done extremely well against the English bowlers. The exception was against Kent.

England have gone in with a different team than the one that played against South Africa. Jennings and Dawson have been dropped. They have been directly replaced by Mark Stoneman and Mason Crane. Michael Woods is still injured and has been replaced by Chris Woakes. The team that I would have liked to see

1) Alastair Cook

2) Mark Stoneman

3) Joe Root

4) Dawid Malan

5) Ben Stokes

6) Jim Baristow

7) Moeen Ali

8) Toby Roland Jones

9) Chris Woakes

10) Stuart Broad

11) Jimmy Anderson

Seven players automatically get selected. So the question is the choice of Mark Stoneman, Dawid Malan, Tom Westley, Toby Roland-Jones,Chris Woakes and Mason Crane. The team chosen to play are

1) Alastair Cook

2) Mark Stoneman

3) Tom Westley

4) Joe Root

5) Dawid Malan

6) Ben Stokes

7) Jim Baristow

8) Moeen Ali

9) Toby Roland Jones

10) Stuart Broad

11) Jimmy Anderson

The team that they have chosen is a good game and cannot be faulted. They have not chosen Woakes because they want to make sure he his fit especially keeping Australia in mind where Chris Woakes may be needed. I have not followed Stoneman and this is the first time I have heard about him. However England need to find a stable opening partner. So far Alastair Cook has had 11 partners so far. An opening partner must be found by the time the Ashes come up. I don’t think that The Ashes is a place to test new players. You have had greats like like Don Bradman and Graham Gooch fail on debut even though they were playing in their home country. I hope Stoneman, Westley and Malan succeed. The top order needs to get sorted. Generally your best batsman should be at number three. Trevor Bayliss wants Joe Root to bat at three but Root feels comfortable batting at four. In the top order Cook and Root are the most important players. Cook opens the batting so it is only fair that Root bats in the slot where he feels most comfortable. It is better for Root to score more runs with either Cook, Stokes, Baristow or Moeen supporting him.

This will be England’s first Day and Night test match. The first in England and the 5th overall. This will also be the first match where the Dukes pink ball will be used. England is one of those few places in the world where Test cricket is still healthy. Having a day and night match will probably be better for the game.

Detailed Analysis to follow.

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Analysis England vs. South Africa 1st Test

I have been working on my cricket index for sometime now. I have finally decided to use it to analyse test matches using it. There were four possible starting dates.  The first is in January where we have the start of the winter season for India. The second would be in May which is the start of the English season. The third would be in November which would be the start of the start of the cricket season in the Southern Hemisphere . The fourth would be December 26th because I believe that the Boxing Day test match is iconic. I finally decided to start my year with the English season. All teams will be starting with zero points. The whole idea behind this is to treat the performance of the team as an investment portfolio. If a player is left out from a match then his points are replaced by the new player. If a player does not have any points then he starts on zero. The total worth of  your portfolio is the value of the current holdings. Similarly the total score of a team is the value of each players points. The scoring system I have used is loosely based on a fantasy league system where points are given based on the performance of their batting, bowling and fielding. 

Under my system for the first test match the performance of England was 32.2% better. England outperformed South Africa in every area of the game. That being said England were only marginally better than South Africa in their bowling. The points scored by Joe Root and Moeen Ali are quite close with Root just edging out Moeen. Joe Root has got all his points from only batting. Everyone else has got points from at least one another criteria. Moeen Ali scored points from batting, bowling and fielding. The numbers indicate that the first innings runs scored by Joe Root made the difference between England winning the match and getting a different result. However it is understandable that the Man of the Match went to Moeen Ali because of his all round contribution. Will this be a trend in the matches to come where matches are won by an all round performance than single contributions.

We know that Rabada will not be playing in the next test match. Francois du Plesis will be fit to lead the team. This means that South Africa will start significantly lower than what they ended the first test with. Going by history it is unlikely that England will change their team for the next test match irrespective of the condition of the pitch. Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe play one test on July 14th which is when the next test match between England and South Africa also starts. By the end of that those test matches we will have two more teams and by the end of the month India will also be in the points. On further consideration I have decided to include the test series between West Indies and Pakistan which was won by Pakistan.

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One of the most important skills to have is separating the music from the noise. There is no such thing as too much information. However it is extremely important to sieve the chaff. For the past few years I have been fascinated by the concept of shemitah.  In Investment we have generally seen cycles about every eight years. The possibility that the probability that the cycle being every seven years with a Jubilee the year after seven cycles of seven is very high.

There was a man preaching near a tube station. I do not doubt his intention in preaching the gospel. I did question his message though. He was preaching a message of fear. Essentially he was saying that people should accept Christ and become Christians because something huge and possibly bad will happen because it is the year of the Jubilee. Christianity is not a religion of fear. It is a religion of love. To quote The Most Reverend Justin Welby; “Let’s get together in calling out to God, in prayer, in whatever way we like, wherever we are that our often lukewarm or cold hearts are set on fire with love for Jesus, that He is the answer to the fears, the despairs of all around.”  I strongly believe that a clear vision such as this is what made the “Thy Kingdom Come” a successful event.

The fear of losing money does not make a successful portfolio. Having a clear vision and being steadfast no matter what happens is very important. It has to be nurtured and loved. The reward of seeing a young sapling rise to become a beautiful tree is very satisfying.

I do not know when the next market crash will occur. I do not know whether there will be a significant event in the world that is caused by the Shemitah. However this I do know. We are living in the present and must plan for the future. If this is done with discipline then we will be successful.

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Fulfilling the vision

There were so many ways I could have written this. Analyse this purely through numbers, concentrate on the theology or possibly approach it from a historical point of view. Then it dawned on me that there were so many similarities between what we as a church would like to achieve and what the early church achieved. The vision of our church is clearly laid down.

“To be a Christian community helping people to connect with God, and to connect God with the whole of life, committed together to praying, welcoming and growing.”

Any vision can be achieved in a complex manner or made as simple as possible. Through investments I have come to realize that the first step to success is to have a clear goal and then go about achieving that goal through the simplest of means. Creating a plan to achieve that goal is always backed up by research and historical data. With investments, we are usually limited by the life of the product or theory. Back testing the performance of an investment and claiming that similar results will follow is a fallacy.

To me the Bible is clearer than any other financial books. It has historical data from the start of time. In the beginning, there was God and He created the heavens, the earth and light. Light and darkness was separated to create day and night. This was what happened on day one. I am not a theologian in any shape or form. However, from what I have read it seems clear that the early church did not start in the grandiose temple. It started in the upper room which was possibly a normal or low key room. The Holy Spirit came down on them. They began to speak in different languages. The people over there and the traders from all over the known world who were present there understood them and were amazed that common people who never left the region were speaking in foreign languages. That would have been an experience worth telling people about.

We had a sample of this when Church of the Ascension at Hanger Hill, St. Mary’s West Twyford, Resurrection Church and Potters Palace came together under one roof. It was pure beauty to see the church bursting at its seams and hear God being worshipped in different languages. It did not matter what colour skin we had, nor what language we spoke or where we lived. People were touched and you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the presence of the Lord was there. Whether it was the soft stillness of prayer or the rejoicing in song. It has been months but I still get moved when I think about that day. The unexpected warmth of sun light shining through the window is imprinted in my mind. I felt the power of God.

Debates range about the population of Jerusalem. The numbers are between 20,000 and 100,000. During holy days those numbers would swell up to double that. 3,000 people were converted on Pentecost. That would mean between 3% and 6% of the people present in Jerusalem. To put things into perspective; the Emirates stadium has a capacity of 60,260. J.John is coming there on the 8th of July. If 3,000 people converted on that day then it would be a numeric equivalent.

If a quarter of the people who converted on the day of Pentecost were traders who spread the news of what they had witnessed in Jerusalem where ever they went then the number of people who would have converted would have expanded geometrically. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the disciples and those that were converted would have kept what had happened to themselves?

When I look at the Bible I see a lot of similar trends. They are very important to me. God seems to have a habit of choosing the most unlikely of people to be his heroes. Joseph was one of the youngest children of Jacob. He was sold and became a servant. He ended up becoming second only to pharaoh. Moses was born a slave. He ended up being a prince of Egypt and probably one of the most important people in the Bible. David was a shepherd. He was the youngest son of Jesse. He became the ancestor of Jesus. Jesus was born in a manger and was a carpenter. He was born in Nazareth which was possibly one of the most insignificant places in Israel. Most of the disciples were fishermen. However, Christianity is the biggest religion in the world because they spread the word.

The only sign of life is change. To this effect, it is imperative for us to grow as a church. This growth should not be restricted to just the spiritual aspect of life. We should build relationships with people and not just limit ourselves to talking over coffee after church. It is also important to be outward looking. We need to serve the needs of Brent and Ealing and if we are ambitious then we can even focus on the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Area. Start small by talking to your neighbour and finding out if they need anything. If you cannot help them specifically then maybe there is someone else in church who will have the knowledge to help them. The early church had a plethora of problems and threats. Most of it was solved by simple sound advice. It was not easy to implement it. However, they were successful by being steadfast . They used their talents and gifts to enrich the church. Our God is a creative God and He created us in His image. I refuse to believe that He would send us into the world without giving us any gifts that we can utilise to glorify his name. Peter did not start off with a powerful sermon or song after the anointing on Pentecost. He caught the attention of the audience with humour by saying that the people who spoke in tongues were not drunk because it was only nine in the morning. Sometimes a welcoming smile is more important in retaining new worshippers than the sermon. The disciples were not rich monetarily but they gave in full measure whatever they had whether it was money or their gifts.  Money while a necessity for the sustainability of the church must not be a hindrance for growth. If we start by making use of what we have for the church and the glory of God then with faith we shall in time be able to achieve the vision of the church and secure our future.

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I think I had an acceptable level of success in achieving my resolutions for 2016. So I will continue this year. In no order.

1) Write twelve posts in a blog.

2) Get more healthy.

3) Improve my work.

4) Improve my musical abilities.

5) Write at least one chapter of my book.

So let the journey begin.

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