October 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

Impact investing is not new but has gained much wider appeal in today’s investment landscape, especially since the pandemic. Impact investing is not philanthropy as it aims to generate positive returns for those taking part. Simply put, an impact investment looks to make a positive contribution to the area in which it invests, be that the betterment of the environment or a social issue. The Responsible Investment Association of Australasia notes that the three parameters of impact investment are intentionality of the investment to produce social or environmental outcomes; the measurability of those outcomes and financial returns.

The growth of ESG investment parameters have brought the idea of investing for good into the forefront at both institutional and retail levels. Many listed public companies and fund managers have built ESG frameworks into their businesses to reduce or mitigate negative impact in the areas they operate and invest. Impact investing seeks to find companies and projects that make positive contributions through their implementation.

Impact investing is growing in a number of areas like investment managers who build portfolios of listed equities with their own stock or thematic filter to find and back companies making a positive impact in their industry. The intent of these portfolios is to go beyond stocks that are ‘greenwashed’ or who have taken on ESG themes. Whilst this is positive in itself, impact asset managers are looking to buy stocks that have direct exposure to industries or ideas where a measurable positive environmental or social impact can be attributed. The stock universe for this type of product is growing, particularly with new technology in renewable energy, pharmaceuticals, and waste recycling. Other products such as social or environmental impact bonds can also be managed by investment managers looking for different asset classes or diversity in their portfolio offerings.

Another way investors can gain exposure to impact is through direct investments in infrastructure and other such projects that create positive outcomes for communities, nations or the environment. These investments can be wide ranging in their desired impact or extremely specific in the areas on which they focus. Renewable energy, medical and hospital infrastructure, housing and water sustainability are just a few. Even real assets such as forestry investments (which are certainly not new to institutional investors) can sit in this arena.

September 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

Have you ever wondered why you are asked unusual questions in job interviews? They might not make sense at the time, but wacky sounding questions are really a way of gauging your reaction to an unexpected question or problem. Questions like this challenge you and prompt you to provide an answer which is outside the usual corporate framework.

Strange or amusing questions from your employer can assist them in understanding you better and help them decide whether you’re going to align with the company vision. By creating a space to ask a weird question, the candidate can relax a bit and consider the best response and reaction. It can be an effective tool utilised by the employer, yet it also allows you to reveal more of your personality and how you assess questions and problems.

Here are some unusual questions that have been asked during real interviews. Have a read and consider what your answers might be.

1. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

2. What are twenty things you can do with a brick?

3. Can you sell me this pen / glass of water / door / Post-It note?

4. If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?

5.  If you were given a free full-page ad in a newspaper and had to sell yourself in six words or fewer, how would the ad read?

6. How do I rate as an interviewer?

7. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?

8. What would you do if you had a time machine?

9. If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?

Our tip is to not think too hard on your answers. These questions are not designed to interrogate you, rather they are asked to discern more about you. Are you a linear thinker or do you view problems holistically? What kind of logic are you using to arrive at your answer, and how does this showcase your strengths? Unusual interview questions are popping up more often than you’d think, so it’s a good idea to consider how you’d answer them next time you’re interviewing for a new position.

August 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

The benefits of blockchain technology are relatively well known, but the technology has evolved in the cryptocurrency space to give us Decentralised Finance, or DeFi. DeFi utilises the immutable ledger and shared access of blockchain technology to easily facilitate transactions such as lending, interest and exchanges without the need for intermediaries or traditional middlemen such as banks. Simply put, DeFi alters the traditional safety and cost of financial institutions to enable actors to engage in transactions and relationships without the added cost layer that those traditional players add to the process. The perceived safety of institutions is in this case replaced by the perceived safety of the immutable ledger technology of blockchain. To break it down even further, DeFi is like an ecosystem for cryptocurrencies, and will soon include other digital currencies and tokenised assets.

The complexity of available DeFi applications and the vast amount of them adds to both their popularity and excitement as a new form of financial technology but also to the risks they expose to consumers and investors. One risk associated with DeFi is the potential volatility of the crypto assets used as collateral. This is a problem for all things crypto as we have seen with the price surges and troughs of Bitcoin and Ethereum. DeFi applications also utilise smart contracts that involve code that underpins the operation of each interaction or application. This code can be compromised or not written correctly creating a risk to consumers using the DeFi application attached to it.

This sector is largely under or un-regulated by traditional financial markets and government regulators. This can prove to be a dangerous hunting ground for investors in DeFi technology, and likewise DeFin participants eager to participate in the emerging DeFi space. While further regulation is certainly pending, the benefits of DeFi are clear and interest in the application of DeFi concepts continues, in Australia and beyond. There is a local appetite for blockchain​, and Australian start ups are exploring the DeFi space. Most notable is the “father of modern agriculture” Kain Warwick’s Synthetix which has nearly $1.6bn invested in it. And RocketPool is a local “a decentralised, trustless and community owned staking protocol designed for ETH2” making waves down under. It is encouraging to see entrepreneurs in Asia-Pac explore the DeFi space, in a rapidly evolving area that is keeping regulators on their toes as DeFi technology and peer-to-peer trustless lending is starting to challenge the traditional financial market intermediary banking sector.

July 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

The benefits of meditation are numerous, and can be especially helpful in the lead-up to an interview. Interviews for even the most seasoned professionals can be a challenge and practising some pre-interview meditation for five to twenty minutes beforehand can be helpful to reduce your stress or anxiety about the experience. Ideally some “quiet time” among nature for this quick meditation practice is ideal, although even a short break at a bus stop, office foyer or in a spare bedroom before a Zoom interview would all work!

For your pre-interview meditation here are some things you may care to consider:

Be grateful:

Meditate on everything you already have and can be grateful for. This feel contrary to seeking new employment, but reflecting on all that you already have is actually a great place to start. For everyone there is much you can already be grateful for; friends, family, kids and your health are all good places to start.

Be thankful:

Pause to give thanks for the opportunity to interview for this role. You were probably one of over a hundred applicants to apply for this job and you are now getting an interview. It’s pretty cool for you to have an opportunity to interview with the client, regardless of the outcome. Every interview is a chance for you to build your network, and could be the next step in your career. So be thankful for the interview; independently of the end result.

Be accepting:

Prepare yourself to be okay with the idea that the interview may not go that well. This isn’t setting you up for failure, instead this is accepting that some parts of an interview are out of your control, some questions you may have no answer for and you simply may not be the person they are looking for. But that’s okay, and life will go on.

What’s your intention?

Intention is something to consider prior to an interview, and it’s probably aligned to your career goals but intent is also more immediate. A simple intention could be to connect with the interviewer and learn more about the company and opportunity. Try to keep the intent of the meditation and interview more in the present tense, rather than focused on medium or longer term goals. Aim for an open and honest connection with the client as your immediate intent, and this will probably align with your medium-term goal of getting the job.

Some pre-interview meditation could be a handy tool to help you enter your next interview with more presence, calm and clarity. While for some, the best interview prep may be a strong coffee and some push-ups! Either way, we hope this could be another tactic for you to consider in the lead-up to your next interview.

June 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

There is an international trend towards the mitigation of modern slavery which is also being implemented recently across Asia-Pac, and has an impact on staffing within financial services firms and also affects their suppliers. According to the International Labour Organization, more than 40 million people globally live and work in slave-like conditions, with over 15,000 of these individuals residing in Australia. The CV19 pandemic has further highlighted potential risks within this space, as many European nations in particular look to implement legislation beyond the soft mandatory reporting and due diligence guidelines encouraged by the UN and OECD.

The financial services industry is a high-risk sector, constantly exposed to the detriments of modern slavery, human trafficking, domestic servitude, deceptive and forced labour and debt bondage. In order to combat these illegal and immoral activities, Australia enforced new legislation under their own Modern Slavery Act‘An Act to require some entities to report on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and actions to address those risks, and for related purposes’.

The legislation requires large Australian and foreign entities conducting business in Australia to report annually on the potential risks occurring in their operations and supply chains, and the active processes they are undertaking to address and prevent modern slavery. The Australian Modern Slavery Act is explicit that those grossing over $100m in annual revenue should produce yearly reports to the public on potential modern slavery amongst their business dealings. Whilst the Act may fall short of its imperative trajectory to combat illegal slavery activities, it is the overarching influence of the larger banks, superannuation funds and mining operations to display transparency of risks in their business and be the dominant voice combating modern slavery. There is a reliance on these particular Australian organisations to openly declare integrated programs in their business which monitor, identify and address money laundering and financing terrorism, thorough customer vetting and reporting of suspicious transactions. Failure to do so puts the organisation at risk of criminal offences.

While the Modern Slavery Act was introduced a few years ago, we are now seeing financial services firms implement policies to reduce modern slavery in all its forms, and work with their suppliers to ensure that the industry works to eliminate such issues across every location in the region.

May 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

Semiconductors make up the brains of many items we use daily. They are especially important in consumer electronics, computing and the auto industry, and Taiwan remains the clear world leader in semiconductor technology and production. The main component of semiconductors, silicon, has faced a recent supply crisis with increased demand for these sorts of products. The immediate need to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines has added further pressure to the supply and price of silicon, with its use in the manufacture of vaccine vials. The pandemic further forced factories to close, resulting in customers delaying their purchases, and this was followed by a miscalculation by many industries, particularly the auto industry, on demand for semiconductors. As an example, Apple accounts for $58 billion a year in semiconductor sales, and was forced to delay the launch of the new iPhone due to the shortage of semiconductors. The semiconductor manufacturing process is also intricate and expensive. Factories take a number of years to build with multi-billion dollar capital costs, as the US is learning as they rapidly seek to build a domestic semiconductor capacity.

Geopolitical tension surrounding Taiwan is creating a global reliance on a unique product in a hotly disputed location in the region. The US has begun the process of becoming less reliant on imported chips from Taiwan, although this will take time and availability of high-quality semiconductors from non-Taiwan sources will be a slow process. Further, demand for semiconductors is rapidly increasing as every country adds more interconnectivity and complexity to the devices that we use and the cars we drive.

Global dependence on Taiwan for the production of semiconductors is an interesting regional geopolitical flashpoint in Asia-Pac that affects financial services and, notably, highlights the importance of Taiwan to both China and the US. As the US and the EU rapidly seek to diversify away from Taiwan semiconductor reliance, there will be heightened interest in this small north-east Asian island who in 2021 are still ‘holding all the chips’.

Our clients include

* Prior invoiced clients across the region.