A Crisis of Culture - Valuing Ethics and Knowledge In Financial Services

Back in 1980, just 9% of Harvard MBAs went into financial services. By 2008, the figure was up to 45%. Lured to Wall Street and the City by generous pay packages, financiers were encouraged to chase rapid earnings growth. Short-term profit priorities led to extreme risk-taking at many firms, with employees selling complex derivative products they did not understand (and that many of their corporate clients did not need), and lending to people who could not afford the repayments.

In A crisis of culture we examine the global financial services industry’s record on ethical conduct; we investigate the level of knowledge financial services executives have of their own firm and of their industry; and we explore the role that greater knowledge plays in building a stronger culture within financial services firms. The main findings are as follows.

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U.S. investor Pulse Survey 2013 - What Investors Are Thinking

Five years after the financial crisis, many investors remain wary and risk-averse. Nearly half of U.S. investors are negative overall about their financial futures, with worries ranging from “concerned” to “nervous,” “pessimistic” and even “depressed.” Interestingly enough, financial advisors are adopting a more optimistic outlook than investors—with 59% feeling “positive” about the current investing environment.

In addition, about half of U.S. investors do not feel in control of their financial futures and are not confident they are making the right savings and investment decisions. This means that investors need answers on how to better manage their money for the future—in order to achieve their financial goals. Given the strong link between investor sentiment and behavior, it is clear that investors need to be more proactive and take control if they want to develop a more positive mindset. 

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Market Indices, Asset & Risk Management Numbers: October 2013

Great summary of investment performance - monthly, quarter, Year to date and 1-year stats. Updated performance data: stocks, bonds, mixed portfolios, etc.

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Parental interest in financial literacy education

Saving for long‐term goals is the most commonly taught aspect of managing money, and indeed, this is regularly reported as a common area of late teen money management in the IEF Youth Literacy Survey. Learning how debt builds through compound interest is critical learning too, and a major source of distress for those who don’t learn it according to IEF research (see Learning and Key Events, Age 20‐34). As students move into later grades in high school, more and more learn about managing debt from their parents. This type of teaching increases from 56% in Grade 9 to 79% in Grade 12. Growing money through compound interest is a topic that is perhaps geared to later life, although many teach it to their kids in high school.

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Investor Presentation

Investment highlights from the company's November investor presentation:

  • Diversified, highly-contracted generation portfolio located in markets with strong fundamentals
  • Extending life and reducing merchant risk of asset base through new contracts
  • Expected significant cash flow upside post-PPA expiry
  • Disciplined growth strategy to further diversify asset base
  • Experienced senior management team
  • Financial strength and policies to deliver on our targets
  • Commitment to investment grade credit ratings

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Annual State of the Residential Mortgage Market in Canada

During the past decade, residential mortgage credit in Canada has expanded at an average rate of 8.6% per year. The moderation of housing activity since the recession has resulted in slower growth of the mortgage market. The current rate of 4.6% (in the year to August 2013) represents moderate growth. The volume of outstanding residential mortgage credit is $1.19 trillion as of this
August.

Mortgage credit will continue to expand, but the growth rate will decelerate further. As is illustrated in the chart to the right, the volume of residential mortgage credit outstanding is projected to grow by 4.5% in 2013 (about $52 billion, to $1.21 trillion at year end). For 2014, the forecast growth rate is 3.25% (to $1.25 trillion), followed by 3.0% growth in 2015 (to $1.29 trillion). The primary cause of mortgage growth is completions of housing, which are expected to slow during 2014 and 2015.

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Gold Demand Trends Q3 2013

Third quarter gold demand of 868.5 tonnes was worth US$37bn. A year-on-year decline in demand reflected further depletion of western investors’ ETF positions. After reaching record levels in Q2, consumer demand remained very strong in Q3 and year-to-date has set a record pace. Central banks continued to add gold to reserves, but at a slower rate.

Gold Demand 1,101.4 868.5-21.0% 1,045.8 
Q3 2013 Gold Demand Overview
 Tonnes
 Q3'12Q3'13

Yr on Yr % change

5-year average

   Jewellery461.7 486.75.0%506.3
   Technology102.1102.81.0%107.8
   Investment425.3185.5 -56.0%373.8
      Total Bar & Coin demand287.5304.26.0%317.4
      ETF & similar products137.8-118.7-186.1%56.4 
   Central Bank net purchaes112.393.4-17.0%58.0

 

For a discusion about how gold is valued read - Gold: Should You or Shouldn’t You?

 

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