Sunday, August 1

Making the eldest cost centre into a hedge fund manager

You remember what I talked about last time about my son getting educated on stock investments? Well, now we started on a new experiment. The genesis of this comes from the last parents teacher association meeting that I attended and the fact that I got him a summer internship at a friend’s software development shop to learn about website design for his business. Anyway, the teachers told us that the students have to make a good cv for the formal internship next year and concentrate on the extra-curricular activities to differentiate himself from the others. He is ok in sports, but not championship / trophy level, he is much better at the mental stuff. He does like playing football and guitar but not to that extent.

Anyway, so the idea was sparked in my head and I fired off an email to some friends asking if they would be interested in investing money in a UK Stock market fund run by Karn, say £200 per head investment, 3 year lock-in period, quarterly investor calls, with an independent investment committee of non subscriber experts and we pay him on an agreed % return basis.

So he has agreed to do so, he is now busy thinking up a name of the fund. Told him to think of a good name, it has to reflect solidity and trust, also explain what it does, but also has to give a frisson of excitement. He will line up the portfolio on and send a spreadsheet around every 3 months, get the independent investment committee to help and guide, and have a quarterly call.

So aiming for him to come up with the first list of stocks for about £1000, about seven people have already signed up, and one friend’s son also wants to invest. I did warn everybody that he is still a kid and he could lose the lot, there could be a double dip recession, there could be horrible returns in the UK, so they have to be warned that this should be looked upon as lost money. That did not worry the friends that much and looks like its a good start. And even if he loses the money, I think it would be an invaluable lesson on how to protect capital at the very least and try to make alpha. I will keep on reporting on the progress of the fund and what kind of returns he is making. Lets see if this experiment works out.

But more importantly, if you had to advice him, what would you say he would invest in? What kind of stocks do you think would be good for a good return over the next 3 years?

Working from home

I am currently starting a new transformation programme and will end up with approximately 20-25 people additional people in the building. A significant number will be consultants but many will be internal permanent and contractor employees as well. Number of desks that are allocated to me? Zero. So I am having to beg borrow steal sneak and squat in about 4 different floors in the building.

This is obviously not beneficial and has been escalated to senior management. Although given the seat situation, I really dont know where they will find the space. I hear there are some spaces in the window cleaner's boat, but not sure how many will like to work there. So homeworking it is.

But that's good when you have an established unit working and people know each other and a team has been formed, when you are forming a team, then its much more difficult.

I was speaking to a friend of mine who has young children and he said that its tough to do calls with babies at home. I recalled what I used to do, try to bunch up calls to take at home, open the call and announce that you are at home and have a baby. Made a sling out of my ma's sari and put the baby in the sling, lying down or up against my left shoulder. Bought one of those phone headsets which has a mute button and off you go.

Its not pretty or hunky dory, you can end up with a shoulder full of drool, or suddenly you hear "abababdbssaababababab" or the baby grabs your pencil while you are trying to take notes or you suddenly find that your baby has decided that your ear makes for a perfectly good teether or decides to use your head as a drum or wants to participate in a call about budgets. All which has happened to me and its not fun, but there you have it.


Having had the joys of home working for the past 12-13 years, I am still not sure if anybody has really cracked the home working situation properly, specially within the financial services world. Also came across this article on the differences between men and women home working. I quote:

Everybody knows that men and women think differently in a lot of ways. But do those differences matter when it comes to working remotely and managing remote teams? According to Sally Helgesen, it matters a lot. Managers who don’t appreciate those distances can do themselves, their companies and those employees a great disservice.

What do you think? What have been your experiences with homeworking and managing output with teams who are homeworking?