January 2013 newsletter

The two most dangerous words in the world are…

Wait for them…

‘I know’…



‘Ok, why is that?’
You see, those two simple little words stop further thinking. They trap you into repeating what you feel comfortable doing, in the same way in the past. They prevent blue sky thinking, bold out of the box solutions, the creation of entirely new ways of working, an alternative focus. They breed mediocrity and slowly eat you and the business from within.
You see, the world is so very different and fast moving nowadays that ‘I know’ really means ‘I’m living in a previous world, I’m just seeing out the final weeks or months of my own personal dying process, please leave me be, leave me alone with my hope that somehow things will get back to how they used to be…’
Over the last 12 months I’ve heard so many experts say ‘it’s just a question of being more resilient in these tough times. They say ‘Build on your resilience and you’ll see these times though’. But there’s a problem with the word ‘resilience’.
Look it up in thesaurus.com and you’ll find several synonyms for it. It can mean ‘endurance’, resistance’, ‘backbone’, ‘staying power’, ‘stamina’ – harsh words that Einstein would probably include within his definition of madness – that is continuing to do the same things but expecting a different outcome. To many ‘resilience’ means toughness in the face of adversity.
Now look it up again.
It has other synonyms verging on the opposite side of toughness. ‘Elasticity’, ‘flexibility’, ‘adaptability’, ‘give’, suppleness’, ‘springiness’.
I went to the Natural History Museum in London last week. The dinosaur room reminded me that it’s never been the strongest nor the toughest species which survive, it’s the most adaptable, the one that can often use its brain to make the best out of a crisis, while all around him fail. We’ve already seen several business giants struggle, who, like the dinosaurs simply couldn’t easily adapt. This is despite the fact that bigger businesses, like the bigger dinosaurs, ruled the roost and were higher up the food chain. For many businesses, both big and small, this downturn isn’t over by a long chalk – 2013 will see a good many long established businesses with outdated business models and inflexible management fail.
Is it all bad news? I don’t think so. On the flip side we’ll see many newcomers create new industries unfettered by money-guzzling business models, harnessing technology to its very best to make huge amounts of money. There really is no limit to how much money some of these new businesses will make. And I’m already meeting some of these people – it’s a whole new world for them, one which will see a massive redistribution of wealth.

The good thing about a long Christmas break is that you can spend some quality time thinking. That’s both a good and bad thing. It’s clear that no one, and I mean no one in any business anywhere, will be immune from some of the things that 2013 will bring, both good and bad. Yet we all have a simple choice – anticipate and act in advance or notice and hope to react quickly enough. What’s certain is that we’ll all have to employ both sides of the ‘resilience’ coin, whichever strategy we adopt. And speed is of the essence.
In a few weeks time Andy Gwynne will be talking at one of my regular seminars – I’ll be sending you a separate invitation to this. It will help with your thoughts on this area…
What do you make of the news over the weekend of the banks’ long awaited new liquidity rules?
Great news?
Or just great news for the banks?
I’d love to hear your views…email me.
In the meantime, if you’re interested here are my initial thoughts…
In times of difficulty, all institutions without exception fudge it, and I mean really fudge it. They never ever go as far as the ordinary man in the street would like to see them go or common sense would suggest. The individuals who really should be brought to account, and too big to fail businesses, are always let off the hook, they’re allowed to carry on with little more than their knuckles lightly rapped.
You see every institution argues that they couldn’t possibly have prevented the situation developing or have identified the coming storm any earlier; that they then reacted as quickly as they could; that they’ve properly fulfilled the role expected of them throughout the entire crisis; that there have been some ‘learnings’ on all sides; that they’ve been really tough on the miscreants; that weaknesses, systematic and otherwise, have all been rectified or will be soon; that anyway the past was just a temporary blip; that all of our views are wrong because we’re not experts; they buy time hoping that somehow things will all blow over. It’s happened time and time again whatever aspect of our society you care to look at…
The real problem is it’s all smoke and mirrors. (I’m really tempted not to be so polite)
Let’s look at this bank liquidity ratio thing again…
The banks have been given four years to comply fully with the rules. But they don’t have to comply at all for the next two years, and even then only to 60%!
And they only have to put enough liquidity to one side to survive for 30 days! 30 whole days!
But to add real insult to injury they’ve been allowed to include in their liquidity buffer assets that really aren’t all that liquid. Yes even securities based on residential mortgage backed securities – have the regulators forgotten that it was these creations that almost brought the banks to their knees 5 years ago? … just how short are their memories?
It just goes to show yet again that in this world fact is often stranger than fiction.
Have a great 2013, sleep soundly in your bed in the knowledge that our beloved institutions are looking after us (there’s that ‘know’ word again!) and no one, not even the USA or Europe, ever kicks the can down the road!
Please remember that regardless of what happens out there, I’ll be here providing positive, proactive, and innovative, support on quality insolvency engagements – I’m achieving some really great outcomes for some of your competitors, their clients and friends, particularly when I get involved early. Which of your clients need my help?
Anyway, I’m off to find a pub where bankers congregate as I’m expecting one hell of a party.  You can expect a few sore heads in the morning!
Speak soon.

Paul Brindley

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2 thoughts on “January 2013 newsletter

  • January 7, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Paul,
    brilliant article and it’s hard to disagree with you.
    I would add though that the banks are doing all they can to drag their heels with compliance in the hope that after the next general election they can begin to buy lobbying and steer policy again in their favour. Sadly banks can afford a waiting game that politicians can’t.

    My thoughts on bank reform from 18 months ago: http://www.businessinpolitics.com/2011/09/the-vickers-report-wont-bring-banking-reform/


  • January 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Karl, loved your article, I agree with everything you said. I’ve covered the issue of the banks’ conduct home and abroad a good many times in my newsletters. I find it absolutely astounding that we’ve allowed them to get away with what they’ve done and are continuing to do; I’m astounded by the connivance of the regulators, the payment of bribes to whistleblowers, the hushing up of behind closed doors deals with the regulators and the miniscule fines agreed….I could go on and on. Who was it who said ‘let the politicians run the country, just let me rule its money’? Sants got a gong in the New Years honours, I wonder when King will get his?

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