2022

2022

September 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

At the beginning of the month the Jobs and Skills Summit took place in Canberra. Productivity, upskilling and increased engagement were marked as key points of focus. Here we’ve highlighted some key outcomes of the summit.

Productivity

Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics confirms that there has been a decrease in productivity and a rise in labour costs. Skills shortages and migration issues, largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, were listed as notable causes.

The measures taken to help stabilise this include:

  • An increase in Permanent Migration to ease critical skills shortages
  • An injection of $36.1m in additional funding to ease the visa backlog and accelerate visa processing
  • Two years of additional stay for graduates with degrees in areas of verified skills shortages
  • A review of Australia’s migration system will also be conducted to ensure that its structure, purpose and objectives are aligned with future demands and challenges

Upskilling

In pursuit of a better-skilled and better-trained workforce, the government, states and territories have agreed to the following:

  • 1,000 digital apprenticeships in the Australian Public Service that will run over 4 years
  • National Skills Agreement which will provide an additional $1bn in joint funding for fee-free TAFE
  • This will provide 465,000 fee-free TAFE positions
  • To address skills shortages and provide prolonged capacity in affected sectors, the government will also establish the Jobs and Skills Australia work plan

Increased Engagement

Measures are being taken to reduce the barriers to employment and further promote equal opportunities. This includes the following immediate actions:

  • A $4,000 income credit for Age Pensioners over the 2022/23 financial year without impacting their pension payment
  • Businesses with 100+ employees must now report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency
  • Amendment of the Fair Work Act to improve access to unpaid parental leave.
  • Stronger protection for workers with respect to any harassment or discrimination

In summary, the outcomes and immediate actions following the Jobs and Skills Summit were substantial. Students and pensioners will help resolve the current skills shortage which will be aided by an increase in skilled migration for the current financial year.

Positive steps to improve workplace relations were also taken. The unions, employers and government have displayed a commitment to proactively collaborate with the intention of improving the Australian workplace. This is to be achieved by promoting a culture of creativity and productivity that centres around good faith negotiation and genuine agreement between all relevant parties.

Further, a tripartite National Construction Industry Forum has been established with the objective of addressing issues of mental health, gender equality, training and safety, along with cultural diversity and productivity.

Collaboration and agreement has seen the building blocks put in place to create a better skilled and more productive workforce. Now the challenge will be securing these blocks together and keeping them stable for an extended period, in what is a challenging economic and changing workplace environment.

 

Interesting Hong Kong Data

  • Hong Kong in Chinese means ‘fragrant harbour’
  • The Central-Mid Levels escalator is the longest covered escalator in the world and runs for more than 800m
  • Hong Kong ranks 6th on the global billionaires list with 71 residents with a personal wealth exceeding US$1 billion
  • Known for having more than 8,000 skyscrapers, Hong Kong is made up of 263 islands, many of which are uninhabited and unreachable
  • The number 4 sounds like death in Chinese and is the reason why most buildings do not have a 4th floor

 

Venue of interest: Little Rogue

A trip to Melbourne wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a true laneway cafe. The directions to Little Rogue say it all: “Blue Door next to the White Cat”. You will witness people sipping on their coffee all along the laneway before entering a vibrant atmosphere inside. It is the perfect combination of cosy, cool and unpretentious. There is some pleasantly surprising decor and the coffee is superb.

October 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

Last month in Australia there was massive data breach with one of the leading telcos, Optus. They were subject to one of Australia’s biggest customer cyber security hacks in decades, with up to 9.8m people at risk of financial crime due to the breach. This has resulted in a large-scale review of cyber security not only in the retail telecommunication space but more broadly across many other sections including the banks.

The hack is a stark reminder that the criminals of 2022 are probing large corporations for weaknesses in their IT systems in search of data. The value of data collection and analysis continues to increase in an information-driven economy, and our reliance on banking online and the digital storage of information and data exposes the finance industry to similar hacks themselves.

Those Impacted by the Optus hack

Optus clients were not the only people affected by the recent breach. Past customers have been caught up the breach too, after it was revealed that the company stores customer data for a period of 6 years after they have left.

What Do We Do?

For the Optus breach and comparable scenarios, the government has nominated Scamwatch which is run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) as the first port of call. The website provides consumers and businesses with critical information on how to recognise, report and avoid cyber attacks including digital scams.

This is useful but from a government perspective, cyber security is quickly becoming a very complex maze, with a myriad of different government organisations to contact regarding different types of theft and fraud.

How Did We Get Here?

The way we communicate, consume information, work and carry out financial transactions have all been revolutionised by the Internet. It seems many of us were in a mad rush for digital transformation and the government sector is experiencing significant challenges in relation to this. A lack of in-house expertise means policies and practices are ineffective in coping with the rate of change.

Where Will We End Up?

Most disasters are usually followed by reform and this is no exception. Optus was not allowed to communicate directly with financial institutions to warn them of customers’ potential exposure. This will now change with new regulations allowing affected companies to share information with financial institutions to assist in preventing or responding to cyber security breaches. Optus’ data was also kept unencrypted which means it was easily accessed and read, so clearly greater cyber security is required by these large organisations to help protect customers’ information.

The finance industry is no stranger to cyber attacks, and banks are obvious targets. S&P just released a report stating that “Asia-Pacific banks have been hacked before, and they will be hacked again”. They suggest that as, “Asia-Pacific financial institutions are increasingly on the cloud, sharing client data with a fintech firm, or relying on third-party service providers… with the addition of each new partner into a digital system, hackers get a new point of entry”. Regulators in the region need to focus on avoiding such attacks. S&P suggest Asia-Pac needs “collaboration, and cross-border information sharing to build cyber resilience across entities to prevent systemic risk.”

 

Interesting Singapore Data

  • The entire national anthem is printed on the back of the $1000 note in microprint
  • English is the main working language in Singapore
  • There are 160+ local and foreign commercial banks
  • The time zone in Singapore has changed 6 times since 1905, most recently syncing with Malaysia in 1982
  • There are more than 350 bus routes and almost 5,000 bus stops
  • The Rain Vortex at Jewel Changi Airport is the world’s tallest indoor waterfall

 

Venue of interest: Margo, Hong Kong

Hong Kong is an amazing metropolis with energy, stunning views, and mouth-watering cuisine. Food is an important part of its culture, which is reflected by the 3-6 courses that can be served for lunch alone at Margo, on Queens Road Central.

You will notice the charm of Margo as soon as you walk in. With a maximum of 7-8 tables, guests are able to enjoy personal service while appreciating a tasty contemporary menu. There is a range of options including set menus between 3 and 6 courses. Enjoy a 3 course menu from as little as HK$500 (AUD$100/SGD$90) with the benefit of multiple selections for each course. Margo will not leave you disappointed.

November 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

It has been a tumultuous year for the United Kingdom. Historically, a change at the helm of the British monarchy would dominate the headlines of The Sun and the Daily Mail for months, but that has not been the case. The ‘partygate’ scandal that marked the end of Boris Johnson was simply an entree with the tenure of his successor Liz Truss lasting just 44 days. When the English football team is not being spoken about in a World Cup year something is not right.

No Trust in Truss

Liz Truss’s month-and-a-half term as Prime Minister was the shortest in British history. At a time of economic instability and international uncertainty her attempt to implement expansionary fiscal policy failed miserably.

On the 23rd of September Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, outlined the government’s ‘Growth Plan’ to parliament. What they failed to predict was the reaction of financial markets to unfunded tax cuts and a cap on energy prices. The British pound plunged to record lows against the US Dollar, the Bank of England was prompted into a bond-buying frenzy, the yield on 10-year gilts rose from 3.5% to 4.3%, inflation surged, and the London Stock Exchange fell sharply.

Truss tried to save herself by making Kwarteng the scapegoat but when his replacement Jeremy Hunt announced that the bulk of the PM’s economic strategy would be scrapped, the writing was on the wall. Despite declaring she is a “fighter, and not a quitter”, Truss resigned within days. It has become a common theme for the Conservative Party which has remained in power since 2010 despite the last four Prime Ministers (David Cameron, Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss) all resigning.

Role of Financial Markets in Truss Resignation

The reaction of financial markets, actions of key financial institutions and subsequent resignation of the Prime Minister leave no doubt that they were a significant factor in the outcome. Inflation and the pandemic are global issues but there are additional factors in play in the UK and one of them is a fear of Brexit 2.0.

The financial services industry was one of the hardest hit by Brexit as the passporting rights of UK firms to access the EU single market were revoked. In excess of 400 financial institutions relocated outside of the UK taking some 900 billion pounds of bank assets with them.

What’s Next?

The political debacle surrounding Truss and the Conservative Party reveals that economic instability is here to stay, as is the risk associated with rising interest rates. It has also revealed the strength of the bond market and the influence that financial markets can have over fiscal policy, especially in circumstances where proposed changes are incredulous and implausible.

As for the English football team, they may have to wait until they get to Qatar to become top of the news headlines again.

Interesting Melbourne Data

  • Ranks in the top 10 for banking in the Global Financial Centres Index
  • Is Australia’s leading tech city and home to a growing list of FinTech companies including Afterpay, MYOB and Credit Suisse backed TradePlus24
  • Was the capital city of Australia between 1901 and 1927 before the title was given to Canberra
  • Has the 4th largest tram system in the world
  • Was originally named Batmania after one of its founders John Batman
  • Recognised as the coffee capital of the world with the most cafes and restaurants per capita
  • Has hosted the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix at Albert Park street circuit since 1996

 

Venue of interest: CÉ LA VI, Singapore

A trip to Singapore is never complete without visiting Marina Bay Sands. Renowned for transforming the city skyline, the resort offers breathtaking views, a signature rooftop infinity pool and a host of award-winning dining venues. At the top of that list is CÉ LA VI.

Located on the rooftop, the CÉ LA VI experience is an architectural marvel and the views don’t disappoint. The restaurant offers a diverse menu that includes contemporary local cuisine along with carefully selected international meat and seafood options. Those staying for the weekend can let their hair down at The Brunch Club. From 12-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays guests can enjoy a bottomless brunch, live DJ’s and percussion acts.

August 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

Technology and social media are changing more than just the way we spend our spare time. The way we socialise, interact, conduct business and learn have been transformed. The world of financial services is no exception and ASIC has displayed concern about the role that these platforms play, and the sometimes questionable credentials of the people handing out information and advice.

With an extraordinary amount of information out there it seems as though the financial regulator faces an impossible task. Where will they look first… Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Telegram… the list goes on.

If that doesn’t seem hard enough, there is then the issue of content such as Snapchat videos and live stories/footage that may not be saved or viewed for a second time. With a world of information in the palm of our hand, we are placing greater significance on material we can read, consume and subsequently analyse. This is reflected in a recent survey which showed that online trading sites now outrank advisers as the most popular source of information for Australian investors.

A tap used to be something you gave someone on the shoulder to get their attention but it is now the method of making quick and easy decisions regarding our finances. We no longer think twice about engaging in financial transactions via a mobile app and this is reflected by the growing number of people that are managing their investments this way. You can now make, monitor and review trades in a matter of seconds on your phone or tablet.

Information sheet (INFO 269) outlines how financial services laws apply to ‘FinFluencers’. It relates specifically to those who do not hold an AFS licence. It is crucial to understand all legal obligations when discussing financial products and services online or promote affiliate links. One of the principal obligations is to provide content that is accurate and balanced. Sounds easy and logical enough but whether everyone does is a different matter.

July 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

The next generation of Australian financial services grads are stepping into perhaps the most challenging economic environment in decades. While afforded historically low levels of unemployment, there are dark economic clouds ahead. In May 2022, the RBA raised the cash rate for the first time in eleven years to combat rising inflation. Indeed, largely due to contractionary fiscal budgets leaving the RBA no wiggle room, throughout the past few years the cash rate fell from a relatively meagre 4.75% to a desolate 1.5% in 2016, and an emaciated 0.10% in 2020 to combat the impact of CV19. While Australia navigated the pandemic well, young Aussies building their careers are about to face the first recession in decades, public sector debt swelling to almost $1 trillion, global supply chains in tatters, a war in Ukraine and an unstable Asia-Pac geopolitical environment. With rapidly rising interest rates to combat inflation, there is likely a recession to contend with.

This melting pot of adversity can largely be attributed to the economic strategy employed by the government throughout the 2010s: trying to please everybody, but good times can rarely last. Long-term contractionary fiscal policy beginning in 2014 was seen as the answer to gracefully guiding Australia back to a balanced budget while maintaining economic growth and prosperity. But an ultra-low cash rate combined with generous state and federal government spending has created rampant inflation, running over 6% over the past 12 months.

Asset prices have boomed as a result of a sustained period of record low cost of capital, and nowhere is this more apparent than in real estate. According to the RBA, the average price of residential dwellings increased from $489,000 in March 2012 to $942,000 in March 2022. The Aussie dream of owning a home for a younger person feels increasingly out-of-reach. As interest rates on rented properties increase, so rents are also likely to rise.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as young Aussie workers are still afforded very low rates of unemployment to get a decent job, and with inflation at play it will mean wage levels are likely to see an increase in the years ahead. Interest rates are rising, but this will help to make home ownership more of a reality as house values decrease. Global supply chains are weakened, but this incentivises the return of local manufacturing and jobs. Energy prices have ballooned, but this has further underpinned the need for locally produced green energy, with renewable energy a massive growth area for jobs over the next decade. CV19 for many caused economic hardship and high public sector debt, but this has created a restructure of the workplace, creating diverse economic opportunity especially in Work-From-Home regional locations.

Undeniably, the current economic and industrial climate has shifted in 2022. It is clear that the burden of the economic adjustment will fall heavily on young people, but because of this shift, no one group will benefit greater than the young, adaptable and technologically savvy employee. In the years ahead it will be interesting to view how each economy in our region manages this inflationary post-CV19 period. Undoubtedly the university graduates of today will need to navigate the most turbulent economic waters in decades. However, these grads will no doubt be hardened through these tough economic times, to become the resilient financial services leaders of tomorrow.

May 2022

Posted by Anton Murray Consulting on . Posted in 2022

Over the past few years there has been an increasing trend of FinFluencers being used to market financial products. In this marketing grey area, social media influencers use their broad reach to promote retail investment and trading products. Even celebrities are getting in on the act, with some high-profile influencers skirting quite closely to offering financial advice especially in the booming area of retail trading in crypto and NTF products. FinFluencers are increasingly being used to promote and target a younger demographic, with a recent ASIC survey suggesting that 64% of young people have changed their financial behaviour because of an influencer. Many of the FinFluencers with large numbers of followers in Singapore, HK and Australia will promote a range of fashion, lifestyle and financial products – so the marketing of financial products by influencers can appear subtle and integrated. Further, many influencers reside in one country but may promote content or products in another so social media allows influencers to promote products freely across borders and, indeed, across the globe.

As you would expect, the regulators are all closely watching the rising impact of FinFluencers, especially when it comes to offering riskier investments in crypto or derivative products. In Australia, ASIC has recently introduced guidelines for influencers promoting financial products, as has the FCA in the UK. Additionally, the Monetary Authority of Singapore [MAS] last year issued revised guidelines for FinFluencers, who now need to ensure they abide by clear rules to not offer financial advice to their followers. This is quite a new area, and its regulation and compliance in this space is evolving.

In a way, the prevalence of social media combined with the rise of retail crypto trading has created a unique situation where a younger audience is being sold the prospect of ‘get rich quick’ investments via social platforms such as TikTok and Instagram. As such, the regulators are suitably watching the space closely to ensure that especially young, impressionable consumers understand the risks of speculative trading products, and also to set clear guidelines for FinFluencers to ensure they know when they are offering direct financial advice. So FinFluencers appear to be here to stay, with regulators attempting to keep up as best as they can.

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