December 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

While the world managed different variants of the CV19 virus over the past year, business across several industries, including financial services, has been remarkably resilient. After several years of tackling the virus there is no debate that managing the pandemic is an important global challenge that requires worldwide collaboration to beat. While there is ongoing variant risk leading in to 2022, there is quite a high level of optimism in the business community, as discussed recently with a bullish assessment from industry leaders in the AFR. However there are many risks on the horizon, especially ongoing challenges in the Asia-Pac region and globally.

As we review 2021 we come across some recurring themes that have been building over the past few years. Positively, we can see the impressive collaboration within the medical community to develop CV19 vaccines at a rapid pace to help keep us all safe. Further, COP26 in Glasgow was an important event this year, where the private sector and government are building momentum to avert a potential climate crisis, with important targets set and increasing green energy innovation in the years to come. This increasing collaboration between governments across the world has been stymied by an increasing distrust for government and institutions in general. This distrust has been exacerbated by the increasingly polarising influence of social media. In particular this has resulted in a limit to the global rollout of vaccine protection in the face of a wave of misinformation spread via social and mainstream media.

The pandemic has heavily impacted many industries, with some sectors more adaptable than others. There has been an increasing digisation of work and technology, with flexible hybrid working and regular work-from-home interruptions becoming the norm. Facebook was rebranded to Meta and there is tech on the way that will introduce 3D avatar-style virtual team meetings and 3D interviewing. However after seemingly endless Zoom and Teams video calls, many of our clients and candidates have been excited to get back to the desk this year to collaborate in-person and simply share a beer and a laugh with colleagues. The extent that WFH and VC interviews remain a permanent fixture after we have cleared the pandemic remains to be seen. But there is no doubt that innovation continues at a rapid pace across industries like education, healthcare and technology.

After several years of change, the Australian government goes to an election in 2022 and both parties will poll on a promise of stability and as little change as possible for the populace. In AsiaPac there is ongoing geopolitical risk that culminated in the globally significant AUKUS agreement in 2021, to promote regional stability. However there is a lot of cause for optimism in to 2022, with CV19 evolving from a dangerous pandemic to simply endemic as the virus becomes more manageable via global vaccination and ongoing booster shots. Importantly, the first world is working hard to deliver vaccines to the third world, many of whom are still waiting for their first dose; and this will be an important step toward living with an endemic CV19. Notably, in demonstration that business continues to boom, and despite the headwinds of the virus, inflation is increasing at a rapid rate across several regions.

Thank you to all the exceptional candidates and clients who have supported us through this challenging year. Merry Christmas to you all, and best wishes to your family for the New Year!

November 2021

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2021

There is a gathering trend in retail investing interest in cryptocurrency that has been building for several years, but the recent crash and burn of the SQUID token is a cautionary tale. SQUID was marketed as a gaming-style token inspired by the Netflix series, Squid Game. Off the back of the popular series, SQUID was able to garner instant retail investing interest. The token was marketed as a “play-to-earn’ crypto to use within a soon-to-be-developed online Squid Game.

The ICO was marketed as a penny stock and within a week each Squid Token was valued at $2,856. Unfortunately for retail investors there were no market sellers, and the Squid Token promoters were suddenly unavailable for comment with the website dismantled. This was a “rug pull” scam from the crypto developers. They promoted a token, and then trading activity suddenly stopped with the developers clearing out any money invested. There was no intent to develop the crypto any further, leaving investors with a worthless token. The Squid Token value has now dropped 99.99% and trading back at $0.01 – not a great return for retail investors.

This is an important lesson for retail investors in the crypto market, especially in the unregulated Wild West of newly-minted cryptocurrencies. It’s a suitable warning too, that the terms “being rugged” or a “rug pull” are commonly-used phrases in the crypto world for an Initial Coin Offering [ICO] that is spruiked but is actually worthless. The Squid Token rug pull was all over in a week or so, with a relatively small retail loss of about $3.3m USD, but certainly painful for the investors caught in the scam. Notably, the cumulative value of digital asset scams is now growing into the hundreds of millions each year, so the regulators are watching this issue closely.

While it can be tempting to invest in an early coin offering, with no prior trading history, this is akin to a risky bet on an absolute long-shot at the track with very low prospect of any return. Crypto investing is already very high-risk, but trading in a well-established token or coin with deep trading liquidity and some form of institutional support is probably a better plan to avoid similar Squid Token rug-pulls.

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.

Our clients include

* Prior invoiced clients across the region.