Archive for December, 2012

Light from the Middle east



Looking for something different over the xmas break? And free?

See this exhibition at the V&A in London.

A genuinely fascinating and varied show which steps beyond conventional photography and themes. With just a handful of exhibits from each artist, the show leaves you wanting more.

I will be stopping by again

Have a good xmas

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Bad brokering part two


Believe it or not this isn’t an exercise in making claims about how wonderful my brokering service is but rather the complete bafflement at how others handle leads

A client of mine is looking for a large facility which is certainly a something of a challenge but would certainly be a very decent prospect if a lender took the time to understand the business. His major clearing bank would not take the account on but passed this potentially lucrative business to a “broker”

How did the broker handle this £20m turnover business? Did they have a meeting with him? Did they make an effort to understand the business? Did they even call him?

None of the above. They simply threw his phone number to two lenders who I could absolutely guarantee would never fund this business, simply because it would not be their choice of client, sector or level of facility. Not a chance. 

All the same, my client had to waste time fielding calls from various reps who had nothing to offer

Naturally my client was very unimpressed with the bank in question. This hardly amounted to constructive advice and it beggars belief theta this back could use this brokering service.

It also sharply brings into focus how careful we have to be with recommendations. or should be….

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Support for HMV

Chatting to a senior underwriter at Markel, the credit insurers, last week, the ever present subject of HMV came up. With a bit of a music industry background, the developments keep me interested and the issue of how far the suppliers will continue to support the group was seen as key

There may well come to be a tipping point when the suppliers no longer believe the high street presence is key and HMV is the last man standing of course. That point is further delayed it would appear

see here

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FTSE 100 to “pay on time” Maybe…


More FTSE firms have “signed up” to promise to pay on time

See here

Good. But may refuse to do so as well. So what can be done? Not a lot I feel. As the article points out, where there is government influence (ie building contracts) then yes, pressure can be applied. Out side of that its a case of “name and shame”

And will the “shame” prevent Sainsburys amongst others struggle to find or keep suppliers?


But by posting a bigger than usual picture, I am doing my bit to name and shame (good business though and if anyone from Sainsburys would like to hire my services, please get in touch)

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Bringing it back home


Here is an interesting article in the New York Times highlighting Apple’s intention to restart manufacturing in the USA, admittedly to a fairly limited extent

This may be more symbolic rather than significant but they are not alone. With wages increasing in China and Brazil as well as transportation and energy costs increasingly and issue, the trend has been become fairly well established. Further to that, concerns about quality and communication are also highlighted. There are a few businesses that have plenty to say about Chinese cost and corner cutting (not least Mangalese Bronze, see piece below) and are old friend the “ease of business” index is also highlighted

China has been talked up by many (some with an authoritarian bent it must be said) as some wonder economy which will financially and politically dominate the world. Although this trickle may not become a flood, thankfully this is probably an unlikely scenario. 



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Shadow Banking


Is a less than encouraging description of the lending industry away from the “regulated” banks. As a broker of finance to SME’s this is a sector l know very well and it would appear that, as is seemingly inevitable these , someone wants to “regulate”

l havent seen the exact details and would probably lose the will to live if I did spend a morning perusing the proposals line by line but this is touched upon in James Hurley’s excellent blog in the Telegraph

It is true that the behaviour of some asset based lenders has certainly been very short sighted on occasions and strongly invites some external control, but the comments in the article are pertinent

“However, excessive intervention could have the detrimental effect of stifling the flow of funding from what the FSB [calls] ‘other financial institutions’, which SMEs so desperately require.”

Have to agree. The issue as i see it is that we simply have too few banks and options for conventional banking and the competition in the lending market has to be encouraged. SME’s most certainly gain from having a wider choice outside the sometimes less than forgiving big four

Excessive regulation will drive out some players, simply because of the huge cost involved. It may also encourage some unwelcome mergers. 

The variety of what is a bouyant market must be maintained

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Londons Skyline

The PinnacleIf you haven’t visited the great city for some time, you will possibly be startled at the range of new skyscrapers and extent of new building in various parts of the capital. This excellent summary details developments recently completed, in progress and imminent too

What to make of al this? The preservationists are less than happy but is London, the most international and dynamic city in the world, Paris or Rome? Beautiful cities both but less inclined historically to continually mutate and develop both culturally and architecturally. On other hand, London has enough iconic views to certainly not be let free to virtually unregulated planning

My view is that most of the buildings are a success. The Shard for instance, has its critics but the architect promised that it would reflect the ever changing london skyscape and seeing it today, almost perfectly ghostly white, in the winter sunshine was a sight to behold.

Vauxhall has a new tower and this often neglected area just south of the river is changing at an extraordinary rate and neighbouring Nine Elms seems set to become one of europe’s premier developments

This is all good in my mind. With the language, time zone and international outlook, the city is set to grow as the conduit between east weat and europe. The city needs to respond and with property prices barely touched by the downturn, the economic argument for these developments remains strong

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