September 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Everything is pretty serious at the moment – the global pandemic, lock downs and businesses under pressure. So, in these strange and often stressful times what better way to relax and recharge than to take a day out to connect with nature and visit one the best animal sanctuaries in Asia.

Jurong Bird Park is Asia’s largest bird sanctuary with a collection of over 4000 common and endangered birds from around the world. Opened in 1971, the park has been serving the local Singaporean and international tourist public with interactive and educational enclosures and aviaries of a vast array of bird species. Jurong Bird Park has been an attraction at the forefront of Singapore’s international tourism growth which now includes numerous other wildlife sanctuaries and, of course, the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.

Singapore’s small land mass has been quickly swallowed up by industry and commerce, as the city state has become an important global financial services hub. Habitat destruction has come with this urban development, but thankfully this is now at the forefront of the Singapore government’s mind. The greening of urban building design, building of park and community recreation space, as well as habitat rehabilitation and venues such as Jurong, are all part of the move to limit the impact of human development and improve the lives of both human and animal inhabitants of the Lion City.

In the next stage of its history, Jurong Bird Park is to be relocated to Mandai where it will join a number of other natural attractions to form what’s been called a ‘Mega 5-in-1 Safari’. The new nature parks will make it easier for attendees to interact with many different types of animals and birds and explore different types of natural habitats from South East Asia and further abroad. Although many have viewed the move from Jurong with a heavy heart after so many years in the same location, the new Mandai project will provide Singapore with a first class zoological tourism, research and conservation hub. Mandai should prove both highly attractive to visitors and important to the continued survival of many regional and international species of animals.

August 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Anyone applying for jobs at the moment knows that Zoom and phone interviews have taken over traditional face-to-face meetings. Many of us feel less comfortable over video, or are just unsure of the protocol that comes with these calls. Below are our top tips for succeeding in your video interview.
1. Dress for the occasion

While you’re likely only going to be seen from the shoulders up, it’s best to dress professionally from head to toe, including shoes. It helps get you into a more professional and formal mindset, and will likely also make the call feel a bit more like a traditional interview.

2. Curate your environment

Not all of us have a dedicated office in our homes, however any steps you can take to make your space look and feel professional will be beneficial. Never conduct an interview in bed, and avoid sitting on the couch if you can. Make sure you have good lighting, and there isn’t any clutter or mess in the frame. Ideally, be in a space that you can close off from other noises or anyone else in the house, and if not, ask them to be as quiet as possible during your interview.

3. Prepare your technology

At least an hour before your interview, make sure you have any software required for the call downloaded, and test that it works on your device. Make sure whatever device you’re using is fully charged and set to do not disturb, so no notifications distract you during the interview.

4. Be expressive

One of the most common complaints about video interviews we hear from candidates and clients is that you lose the ability to read body language and tone. If you’re a naturally expressive person, don’t downplay that in the call. If you speak with your hands a lot, there’s nothing wrong with having a bit more of your body in frame, and gesturing if it makes you feel more natural. Try and behave just as you would in a face to face interview, to ensure your whole personality comes through.

July 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Superannuation has been the driving force behind much of Australia’s economic growth over the past decades having fuelled investment throughout the economy and building our robust financial services sector.

With the financial impact of Coronavirus spreading through the economy, Superannuation should play its role once again as a rebuilder. The Federal Government has already utilised super to stimulate the economy through the Early Release policy. Although the policy has drawn some criticism and is certainly not the ideal use of future retirement funds, small business owners and those most affected by the Coronavirus economic fallout will have benefited.

Former Future Fund CEO and current IFM Investors CEO David Neal has recently urged the government to reassess the process for significant infrastructure projects to allow for smaller contracts that could support Australian business’ tender for projects. Mr. Neal argued that dividing large nation building projects into smaller contracts could stimulate the economy by allowing Australian construction and services business’ access to projects that they would usually be squeezed out of during the tender process from larger international firms.

“We’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for the opportunity to contribute superannuants’ money. There are billions here that are ready to be deployed to support nation-building projects,” Mr. Neal said.

Damien Graham, Chief Investment Officer of First State Super noted recently that “As long-term investors, super funds offer a source of patient capital that may provide an alternative to support offered by governments and big financial institutions such as banks”.

All of this coincides with the growing push for Australia’s economic gradual decoupling from China. Superannuation funds provide the quality long term capital platform to fund such a move particularly in infrastructure and what would need to be a rebirth of the Australian manufacturing sector. Everyone will be able to benefit from the jobs growth and economic stimulus such investment would provide, as well as providing strong returns for fund members retirement into the future.

June 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Lewis is a good example of carving a unique path; starting out as a grad fixed income salesman at Salomon Brothers, and transitioning to a career writer with his first novel Liar’s Poker. Lewis also continued with notable works The Big Short and Moneyball, both made into blockbuster films.

Flash Boys, published in 2014, tells the murky story of high-frequency trading and its influence on the numerous public and private exchanges that make up the US listed stock market. It is not so much an exposé, as an account of a couple of ex-traders, developers and technology sales people coming together to try to rewire a trading and market environment that they thought was fundamentally broken.

The story follows a former trader and banking executive Brad Katsuyama who, with some colleagues and a band of diverse personnel, start an alternative stock exchange, the IEX. Their fundamental goal was to remove unfairness from the market and support the underlying needs of actual investors who were at the wrong end of front running and other predatory strategies executed by high-frequency traders. The situation is heightened by the understanding that the high-frequency traders, the investment banks and exchanges themselves are all in on the investor predation together.

The protagonists in Flash Boys took a huge gamble to leave high-paying, good quality jobs to pursue a path that certainly did not hold any guarantee of success. Lewis himself is a good example of a person changing career paths to great personal satisfaction and, of course, commercial success. Much like the characters in Flash Boys, Lewis’ own departure from financial services has the moral undertones that Katsuyama and his colleague’s had in creating IEX to challenge the status quo on Wall Street.

Flash Boys is more about having the fortitude to make change than it is about the seductive power of Wall Street and high-frequency trading. It is a valuable lesson to acknowledge that there is always something better, and it is not always best to do things the way they have always been done. This realisation and commitment to action is hard but it is worthwhile; both Lewis and the IEX team are proof of that.

May 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Lately in isolation we have been enjoying the five seasons of Billions, and this month, have put together a review of this entertaining series. The central theme is a battle between District Attorney Chuck Rhoades and Axe Capital hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod. The main characters are inspired by the real-life journey of ex-US Attorney Preet Bharara and Steven A Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors. Bobby Axelrod is acted by Damian Lewis, a more playboy version of Steve Cohen, and Paul Giamatti plays the role of Chuck Rhoades.

Bahara’s real life as a US Attorney for the Southern District of NY is full of a colourful array of prosecutions across insider trading, public corruption, art fraud and Russian money laundering that doesn’t stray too far from the themes covered in Billions. With the prosecution of SAC, Cohen was forced to close the firm in 2013 and set up a family office called Point72. Since 2018 it has been able to manage external money.

There is high quality acting from both Giamatti and Lewis, with a good supporting cast, especially from the wives of the two leading men. The first few seasons are focused on the tussle between these two as Rhoades attempts to take down Axelrod, and in part we catch a glimpse into Bobby’s affluent lifestyle. Although at risk of self-indulgence, the affluent display of Axelrod’s life is part of the enjoyment in the first few seasons and this display of affluence loses a bit of focus in the later seasons, which is a shame simply because it’s fun to watch Axe spend his money. The main conflict between the two leading guys is entertaining and compelling in the first few seasons, although feel like it drags a bit and becomes implausible as the conflict reignites in season five. As in real life, it’s likely that Axe would simply pay a big fine, then move on to making money with a spin-off fund [as he did with Point72] and Rhoades would move on to other prominent cases like Russian money launderers and terrorists, rather than vehemently pursue Axelrod over many years and seasons. Like watching a 50-hour movie, at times some of the characters become less interesting, although the acting of both Giamatti and Lewis especially carry your interest through the seasons.

There is some implausibility with the character of Wendy Rhoades, Chuck’s wife and Axelrod’s HR and Performance Coach for the firm. It seems improbable that Axe would continue to employ her while she was married to the US DA. And likewise, surely Rhoades would have firmly encouraged her to go find another HR job as he focused completely on taking down the fund. The conflict of interest is so extreme on both sides of the fence, that it borders on improbability. There is clearly some romantic impulse between Wendy Rhoades and Axelrod, and we won’t ruin it for you, but we reckon if the impulse had been consummated earlier in the series, this would have made for a more obvious plot continuance for Chuck to be pursuing Axelrod. Sure, it’s this implied romantic interest and tale of jealousy, envy and revenge that drive Rhoades. In this regard, there is a almost a feel of ancient Greek tragedy to the series with an enduring tale of vengeance, jealousy, rage and envy from both leading men.

In summary, Billions is a really cool insight into the world of a high-flying hedge fund manager in CT and NYC, and the machinations of the district attorney’s office. This is a work of fiction, but close enough to the real life adventures of Bahara and Cohen to be both educational and very entertaining viewing.

April 2020

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2020

Never let a good crisis go to waste”, possibly said by Churchill, is a relevant turn of phrase in these challenging times.

Recently the New York Times offered an interesting piece on constructive solitude enjoyed by Thoreau in Walden Pond, Massachusetts. While visiting the country and isolating yourself in a cabin on a lake would be impractical for most, there are some lessons for us to consider in Thoreau’s approach. This virus will be relatively short-lived, though undoubtedly impactful on all of us, but there is real value in constructive isolation.

Not to diminish those directly impacted by this virus either economically or physically, but reframing this period of isolation as an opportunity for renewal or regeneration can be powerful. Consider these short months of social distancing as a valuable time to spend with your kids, improve your health, learn a language or reconnect with your parents. Regarding these odd times as either a burden or an opportunity for personal development, could just be a difference of perspective. Many young children spending countless beautiful days in close connection with their parents will probably look back on this time with fondness. Opting for a positive outlook during isolation is a choice we can all make.

Initially it feels natural to exercise often, perhaps compulsively, to burn off excess energy from being cooped-up indoors for extended periods. Although beyond exercise, this is an exceptional time for forced mental and spiritual isolation. A government-mandated time for you to, perhaps, reflect on what’s important in your life. An opportunity to read, meditate and dream more than we are all accustomed to. Maybe an ideal time to finally put some creativity in your life to pick up that paint brush, typewriter, journal or instrument that you haven’t touched in years.

From a staffing perspective, perhaps now is an ideal time to review your hiring plans for the next few years. Potentially relook at oft-neglected strategic plans, org charts and team development. For your career, now may be a good time to update your CV and your LinkedIn profile, to prepare for a new career direction after the virus passes. Notably, many of our exceptional clients across the region are continuing to interview and hire, to build teams now and plan for growth in the future.

Take care, and enjoy some constructive isolation in your own way.

Please call or email our team if we can offer you any support to help hire for your team, or connect you with that next step in your career.

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