Financial planners at war over poaching - Australian Financial Review Financial planners at war over poaching - Australian Financial Review

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Financial planners at war over poaching - Australian Financial Review

Financial planners at war over poaching - Australian Financial Review

Sally Patten

The chairman of financial planning group Count, Barry Lambert, has accused rival BT Financial Group of unsporting behaviour over its attempts to poach his firm’s advisers.

Since Commonwealth Bank of Australia acquired Count for $373 million earlier this year, the Westpac-owned BT Financial has bought least seven Count practices, a move that senior executives in the industry argue breaks an unspoken non-compete agreement between financial advice and administration businesses.

“It’s not cricket. It’s not the thing to do,” Mr Lambert told The Australian Financial Review. “BT’s behaviour is equivalent to underarm bowling between Anzac friends” – referring to the infamous incident in 1981 when former Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell instructed his brother, Trevor, to deliver the last ball of the match underarm. The incident snuffed out any chance of New Zealand scoring the six required to tie the match.

“I’m very disappointed with the behaviour of BT in the way they are going about business. I’d be surprised if anyone else who knew what was going on would support them.”

Mr Lambert, one of the advice industry’s most respected veterans, said this was his personal view rather than that of CBA or Count.

BT Financial’s poaching of Count advisers is regarded as a “game changer” by some observers and has raised concerns that the Westpac subsidiary has broken traditional ties between planning practices and administrative platforms.

“On the one hand it is part of competition, but [BT] is breaking some unwritten codes around the industry,” said Tony Fenning, chief executive of Shadforth Financial Group, an independent adviser network that is listed on the ASX.

“We would not see as a positive the breaking of those unwritten rules,” Mr Fenning said.

As an independent planning firm, Count used the BT Wrap administrative platform for 25 years, helping build the latter into Australia’s biggest platform business with $86 billion of assets.

Escalating the row between the advice subsidiaries of Australia’s two biggest banks, Count written to BT Financial seeking assurances that BT Wrap has not disclosed confidential information about Count clients that has given BT the upper hand in attracting Count planners.

BT, which has spoken to between 15 and 20 more Count practices about the possibility of them joining the Westpac subsidiary, has denied breaching any of its obligations to Count.

“As BT has explained to Count, BT has fully complied with all of its obligations to Count and to Count’s members, and will continue to do so,” a BT spokesperson said.

“Calculations of the per-client savings that a Count practice can achieve by switching to Magnitude are only performed where this is authorised or requested by the relevant Count practice.

“Beyond that, BT does not propose to comment on the detail of how it deals with its customers and partners,” the spokesperson said.

Some in the industry, including Mr Lambert, are concerned that platforms such as BT Wrap have worked alongside advice businesses to their and their clients’ mutual benefit, but that platforms would now start to compete with advice firms, particularly if they joined a rival company.

BT Financial argued that some Count advisers were questioning whether they would receive adequate support from CBA, saying it was “commercially logical” for them to consider a move to Westpac.

As a result of BT Financial’s concerted campaign to attract Count practices, Count has been forced to raise its retention payments.

Count chief executive David Lane refused to reveal the size of the increase, but a senior industry figure said he had heard it was “substantial”.

Mr Lane said the payments had been distributed evenly across Count practices, so no one would be discriminated against.

He has previously declined to comment on rumours that CBA had set aside $25 million for retention payments to be used to discourage Count advisers from leaving.

BT has denied rumours that it is offering “transition payments” of between $500,000 and $1 million to Count practices that move across.

BT Financial is trying to attract Count planners to its Magnitude advice business.

Magnitude chief executive Phil Butterworth, a former boss of DKN, an advice firm bought last year by IOOF, is expected to give an update on the division’s expansion plans this week.

It is understood that Magnitude has held talks with another 20 planning practices, apart from those that are part of the Count alliance.

Business star Tamer Hassan: I could have killed Richard Gere - The Sun

Like if you're a Christmas tree farmer and you throw one slightly too far over the pile. Just nudge it back a bit.

But when Football Factory star Tamer Hassan didn't know his own strength in the workplace, he went and dislocated Richard Gere's shoulder.

And it only made him even more respectful.

Tamer says: "Richard Gere's over 60 years old. His passion for the industry and the game is just as strong as when he started. He's a beautiful individual, a profesional and very committed.

"We did a film called The Double with Martin Sheen.

"Me and Richard were rehearsing for a month for a big scene. I said 'let me use the stunt double, and you can slip in where you can' - not wanting to hurt him.

"But Richard being Richard as committed as he is, said 'no, I'm doing it.'

"I took a knife off him, jerked his shoulder and it popped out."

Richard's shoulder wasn't the only thing that popped out. The crew then went on a mammoth break, as production shut down when the Pretty Woman actor was unable to film for three months!

"To his credit, he went away, healed, came back and finished the scene," Tamer added.

"If I can be like him at his age I'll be a very happy man."

I talk to Tamer at the new Jongleurs Picadilly - along with his pal, EastEnders star Ricky Grover - ahead of their Comic Idol talent search.

And Tamer has an idea of somebody he thinks would made a useful entrant - his best pal Danny Dyer.

"Danny is probably one of the funniest kids you’ll ever meet.

"He’s got such a likeability to him. He’s so sweet, so lovely. I know people will think I’m being biased, but he had me at hello.

"Danny, Ricky and Ray Winstone - three Canning Town boys - I think it would be the funniest show at Jongleurs ever."

With ex-fighter Ricky in our presence, the conversation flows easily into boxing. Ricky says stand-up, and getting in the ring, aren't too dissimilar.

Tamer isn't so sure, as his mind is elsewhere during a fight.

"You’re mainly worried about women," he says.

"I always used to bring the birds. You’re never going to lose in front of a girl are you? That was my trick anyway.

"I would put the most beautiful cheerleaders round the England training pitch. When women are around, men put the most effort in ever.

"You see it in the gym. When we were kids, and a girl walked into the gym, we exceeded ourselves.

"But now they’ve given the girls physio roles like at Chelsea, so everybody’s rolling around injured!"

It seems Tamer is at home discussing our national sport. Having returned from the States, he can now enjoy it in the comfort of his local. While meeting Danny to work on their new film, following their last hit Freerunner.

And to plug the film's DVD release, Tamer challanged pro freerunner Chase Armitage to a 'Man Vs Tube' race, below.

PRO freerunner Chase Armitage takes on the London Underground

Tamer says: "I’ve been out in LA for two years, for my sins, and I’m happy to be back.

"I came back and wrote a movie. It wasn’t planned, it just came to me.

"The distributors were saying ‘we all want another Tamer and Danny movie’, so I went ‘alright, I think we’ve covered everything. Dead Man Running, to The Business, to The Football Factory.

"I said ‘what do you want?’ They said ‘everything combined’.

"So, thinking on my feet, I said ‘what about two football agents, unearthing the corrupt underbelly of the football industry’.

"They said ‘can you write something?’ and I said ‘yeah’ so called Stephen Reynolds - who’s a fantastic writer.

"We sat down in a room for 8 hours a day for 5 days straight. We went back and said ‘here’s 135 pages'."

Not a bad week’s work, for a dyslexic man.

"I suppose not!" he acknowledges.

FOOTBALL Factory star sits down with his EastEnders' pal Ricky Grover

Tamer - like his EastEnders pal Ricky - has struggled with the condition in the past, but can now memorise pages in minutes thanks to developing a photographic memory.

"Its like, if you’re deaf, you get higher senses in other things. I think dyslexic people have a heightened creativity."

Fans of the Football Factory star will be used to seeing him killing or being killed, so this time around things will be different.

"I’m usually just being violent and Danny ends up with the girl, so I’ve got a love interest in this one," says Tamer.

And the tough guy is still casting for the female part.

"We’re still looking," he adds. "The character is amazing, she drives the film.

"She could actually steal the movie."

"The character portrays women as being the strong one because I’m a great believer that if any man says he is the strong one at home is either lying or miserable."

So is Tamer the boss in his own home?

"Nooooo. Of course not, no way.

"In the bedroom, yes! But everywhere else? Not a chance."

Tamer isn't even the boss in a kebab shop - despite his Wikipedia page's claims that he 'had his eyebrows done after being teased while working in his parent's restaurant'.

Tamer laughs: "I've got no idea where that came from.

"My dad was a carpenter, my mum was a seamstress, we've never had a kebab shop - and I was never called mono!"

And while the hardman does admit to having his eyebrows 'tended to', he won't give away how.

"I can't disclose how I've done it unfortunately.

"My daughter would kill me!"

Sounds like The Business man knows who the real boss is.

- TO keep up-to-date with Tamer, follow him on Twitter @RealTamerHassan

Business Mentors Increases One-Off Registration Fee - Scoop

28th May 2012

Media Release

Business Mentors Increases One-Off Registration Fee To Cope with Loss of Charitable Status

Business Mentors NZ, the nation’s number one not-for-profit mentoring organisation, will increase its one-off $100 registration fee to $150 from 1st June to enable it to cope with the financial implications of its loss of charitable status.

The Charities Commission has deregistered the not for profit organisation on the basis that the key benefactor of the business mentoring service is the individual business owner and that the community gets no measureable benefit.

Business Mentors CEO, Ray Schofield explains: ‘We are committed to keeping the day-to-day running costs of Business Mentors NZ to a minimum. However, the loss of our charitable status combined with increasing demand for our services from small and medium enterprises and the associated costs means that we have to put our registration fee up to cope.

‘The extra income will assist with any administration costs not covered by our private sector patron sponsors and NZTE government funding enabling us to cope with the financial implications of the Charities Commission’s decision. ’

Business failure is a serious problem for New Zealand with devastating consequences for families and communities. The Business Mentoring service is a proven generator of employment and growth, which is vital to our nation’s well being. In particular we help to grow the economy through building performance capability, especially exporting from the SME sector. With over 1800 volunteer mentors Business Mentors New Zealand helps on average 4,300 business clients a year and has assisted over 60,000 businesses since its inception in 1991. In addition we have also supported 127 Not for Profit organisations in the last two years.

The organisation also plays a key community support service in the Canterbury reconstruction through its 330 local volunteer mentors. The critical importance of this activity has been recognised by the Government paying the current $100 client registration fee for Canterbury businesses as well as funding an additional part time administrator in our Christchurch agency.

The Government’s appreciation of the effectiveness of business mentoring is evidenced by its decision to fully fund for six years the delivery of services to 10 Pacific Island nations as part of MFAT/NZAID, programme using NZ Volunteer mentors.

Although Business Mentors New Zealand receives an annual grant from NZTE for its work in New Zealand, the Business Mentoring service could not continue without the support of its 85 private sector business sponsors. Our volunteer mentors give their time freely to their local communities, which in itself is a charitable activity.

The registration fee, which has remained unchanged since October 2007, will entitle business owners to all Business Mentors services for up to two years, including mentoring sessions with an experienced business person and access to a wealth of information and resources.


AIA flies through financial crisis - National Business Review

As the global financial crisis's storm clouds gathered and darkened, causing planes to be grounded and flights reduced around the world, changes were afoot at Auckland International Airport.

Simon Moutter was appointed in mid-2008 as its third chief executive since the company was listed in 1998.

Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden, Craigs Investment Partners executive director James Miller and Infratil chief executive Marko Bogoievski were added to the board.

The company which controls the most important gateway to New Zealand was in flux.

It had just spent half a billion dollars on new infrastructure and more was on its books - work had begun on the new northern runway and plans were being drawn up for a new domestic terminal.

Questions were asked, perhaps because of the financial crisis or the personnel change at the top, or both, whether it was the right time to spend more money.

Wasn't it time to tighten the belt, do more with what it already had and diversify? Whatever the reason, the focus changed.

What followed was commercial deals with airlines to grow passenger numbers, investments in North Queensland and Queenstown airports, as well as slashing planned capital spending and internal tweaks to get the best out of the existing runway and ageing domestic terminal.

The benefits are now clear. Underlying profit after tax rose from $105 million in 2010 to $121m last year, and the share price has grown from $1.83 in May 2010 (just above the 1998 float price of $1.80) to $2.57 on Friday.

In 2011, retail income was a standout, leaping to $111.2m from $95.8m the previous year. Income from airfield activities and passenger services charges also jumped by millions of dollars over the same period.

However, the challenges are far from over. Mr Moutter is departing the job which earned him $936,000 last year, and decisions are yet to be made on a new domestic terminal and when to resume work on the northern runway.

All of that is set against the background of financial stormclouds again forming over Europe.

GFC? No worries!

Former AIA chairman Tony Frankham, who left in September 2010, paints a bullish picture of discussions in 2008 and 2009. He takes some time to ponder if there was nervousness around the board table.

Eventually, he says a decline in passenger numbers, while troubling, is cyclical and fundamentally the airport needs to keep operating.

"It wasn't something that was of great concern, [it was not like] the very being of the airport operation was going to be threatened in any way."

He seems to have greater pause when talking about the then Manukau City and Auckland City councils "flexing their muscles" by appointing board members, which led to "a collection of strong individuals with no immediate cohesion" around the table.

AIA chief financial officer Simon Robertson says profitability in 2009 was flat and that had to change. The board and company, with newly-arrived Mr Moutter at the helm, revisited their business strategy.

"One of the key aspects back in 2009 was trying to change the focus of the business from being an infrastructure builder to more of a sales-led organisation trying to drive economic growth."

In that vein, AIA sales people hopped on planes to convince airlines to fly into Auckland.

"The reality of our business at the bottom of the South Pacific is that we're not always the first thought for airlines globally about where they might put planes on different routes," Mr Robertson says.

"Putting that business proposition in front of them, that we believe they can make good business case for operating to New Zealand and to Auckland was a key aspect to try and lift the aeronautical activity at Auckland for both our company's benefit but also very closely aligned with New Zealand's benefit."

Several new services have launched, including those from China Airlines and China Southern Airlines and Jetstar flying into Singapore.

Other recent wins include a memorandum of understanding signed with Garuda Indonesia, Emirates upgrading its daily service from Melbourne from B777-300 to A 380 from October and Air New Zealand's seasonal services to Bali.

Qantas has recently pulled its Auckland-Los Angeles flights, but United Airlines have signalled interest in an Auckland-Houston service.

International passenger movements to Auckland increased 6.6% in the first half of the 2012 financial year, particularly out of Singapore, Guangzhou in China and Australia.

According to Forsyth Barr, AIA was the eighth-best performing stock on the NZX-50 in 2011.

Forsyth Barr research director Jeremy Simpson says investors see AIA as reasonably low-risk and a rare chance to invest in tourism.

It has proved reasonably resilient despite the 2011 terrorism attacks on New York and the global financial crisis, he says, helped by diversifying into commercial property development and improving retail offerings.

An aviation industry expert, who didn't wish to be named, is also complimentary of the airport's commercial focus.

"This approach has been largely successful in a time when long-haul operators worldwide are suffering from the combined effects of weak demand, yield pressure and rising input costs."

Same direction, different focus

Mr Robertson credits the new focus to his chief executive, who took a look at the business soon after he arrived and asked questions without wanting to know the final answers.

Former chairman Mr Frankham is adamant Mr Moutter has not turned the airport around - the direction hasn't changed. The change of focus was enabled by the large infrastructural spend, he says, and whoever the new CEO was the same thing would have happened.

Mr Frankham says the outgoing chief executive's strength was to recognise the role of people at the airport - from travellers, other users, to airlines and staff.

"His skills are to understand the levers that make the business work - the issues that are important to concentrate on," he says.

"He achieves things through people and he expects a lot of his direct reports and the people that report to them, and if they don't perform they soon find out that they've let him down - but he gives them great scope to achieve."

Mr Frankham says one of Mr Moutter's favourite phrases is "people not aircraft". Basically, getting bums on seats (the higher-spending bums, if possible) and the money will flow.

But it goes deeper and wider than that. Travel wholesalers told potential airline partners where they wanted to take their passengers, beyond Auckland.

Mr Moutter also had a strong vision about the role the airport plays in tourism and the wider economy.

The flow of people through the terminal was important, too. If people moved more quickly, that increases the capacity of the terminal. Smartgates popped up as an easier way to clear passport control, as well as self check-in terminals for departures.

More broadly, a small commercial property empire has arisen around the airport as it better utilised its land.

In January 2010, AIA bought a 24.55% stake in North Queensland Airports, which runs Cairns and Mackay airports. Six months later it spent $27.7m buying a 25% stake in Queensland Airport. 

This year AIA has set its profit guidance in the upper $130 millions.

AIA's latest disclosure information, posted on the NZX on Thursday, says with growth in passenger and freight transport, Auckland is "now confronting capacity constraints, particularly in the domestic terminal".

An announcement from AIA on the timing of a new terminal was expected this month but nothing has yet been forthcoming. 

Mr Robertson told NBR ONLINE it still hasn't settled on the best solution for a new domestic terminal, which will have to last 40 years.

"We're working on what might be some further enhancements we can do in the current terminal to give it a bit more life, but ultimately we want to make the right decision."

Asked if physical work might start in the next financial year, he says: "That all depends on when we get to the decision, but there could be some physical work starting."

Construction work on a northern runway began in 2007 and was halted in 2009. That pause was extended in July 2010.

Mr Robertson says Auckland's main runway does approach capacity at the morning peak, but further innovations to ease congestion are possible.

"I think it'll be a few more years yet before we're starting to dig soil again up to the north of the airport."

Earnings from North Queensland Airport has been strong than expected and Mr Robertson says the company would happily invest further if the opportunity arose, "but there's nothing there currently".

Direct return on investment 'pretty reasonable'

One of the airport's biggest shareholders, Auckland Council, seems happy. It owns more than 22% of AIA shares, ultimately through Auckland Council Investments Ltd.

Councillor Richard Northey, chair of the accountability and performance committee, says the airport's development has boosted jobs in hospitality, construction and retailing.

"There's the direct return on investment, which has been pretty reasonable. And then there's the fact that we own a significant share of the airport because of its significance to overall economic development to Auckland and they've been playing a more proactive role with their land in recent years and we're very pleased about that."

Of Mr Moutter's departure, he says: "We certainly were very pleased with his energy and creativity, and hope the airport can maintain that. I wouldn't say it's a worry but there was a particularly good period under his stewardship and we hope that direction continues."

Mr Robertson - whose only no-comment in the interview was over if he was applying for Mr Moutter's job - says Mr Moutter will be missed but given the company's strategic success over last few years, the core strategic themes don't need to change substantially.

The leadership team has been settled and is able to carry on.

"We all know what we have to do to achieve, the board are very clear on what we need to achieve, and that's exactly what we're striving to do as a team." 

It hasn't all been plain sailing at AIA. Mr Frankham says the market didn't understand Mr Moutter when he first started and it was "curious and suspicious".

"He recognised that and changed the approach. He's a man who understands a business, gets to the essence of it and works that."

The board of "individuals" has now righted itself. Mr Frankham describes the Joan Withers-led board as "an extremely strong, cohesive, unified group of directors, as good as any I'm aware of".

While he doesn't claim it's all his doing, it's still an achievement he's proud of.

He says the airport's biggest challenge is one of its age-old problems - matching infrastructure spending with demand.

"Unless you get that right, you're overspending. If you get that wrong you're underspending and can't meet the demand.

"I think that's a very big, important balancing act for those that run the airport is to ensure that the expenditure enables the company to meet the demands of the airlines and the travellers at the time it arises and not fall short of that.

"And that's one of the things Auckland Airport has been able to do over its total existence."

Financial theory crisis persists - Financial Times

May 27, 2012 1:51 pm

MacroSolve: Does Every Business Need a Mobile App? - Yahoo Finance

TULSA, OK--(Marketwire -05/10/12)- MacroSolve, Inc., doing business as Illume Mobile (MCVE.PK) (MCVE.PK) ("MacroSolve," "Illume Mobile" or the "Company"), a leading provider of mobile technologies, apps, and solutions for business, today announced that on May 8th, 2012, Donald Trump Jr. was featured on Fox Business' Markets Now with Cheryl Casone and Dennis Kneale discussing the world of business apps and the defense of innovation (through the context of software patent litigation).

In the segment, Donald Trump Jr. and Fox highlight the importance of utilizing mobile technologies for businesses today.

"Today, perhaps the most important piece of real estate that someone can have, is... on their smartphones," claims Donald Trump Jr. "To be able to control a piece of that face, is really critical for business."

Another topic of interest discussed was software patent litigation and, in Mr. Trump's words, the defense of innovation in America. Mr. Trump was stalwart in his defense of MacroSolve's robust patent portfolio and defended a number of lawsuits against major corporations including: Facebook, Walmart and Marriott.

"There are patent trolls and then there are true innovators," states Mr. Trump. "Before anyone was even thinking about... patents and mobile apps and communicating this way, these guys [MacroSolve] came up with the technology to be able to do that. That kind of foresight and that kind of thinking really needs to be protected in this country."

Coming off the recent launches of a number of innovative mobile applications including one for the Trump organization, the business-to-business app company released its first quarter results demonstrating its 5th consecutive quarter of top line revenue growth.

Illume Mobile provides custom mobile solutions, and specializes in three industry-specific mobile application platforms: sales (SaleSentral), dining (DineSentral), and personal safety (GuardianSentral). SaleSentral takes sales information and presentations mobile through the development of a customer interface used for uploading and managing content, creating a sales toolkit to use anytime, anywhere. DineSentral makes it easy to promote a restaurant's brand, maximize sales and connect with customers by utilizing rich graphical content, social media, customer loyalty, customer feedback, and integration with third party applications. GuardianSentral is an easy-to-use smartphone application used in tandem with your current campus security offering (emergency phones, campus police, etc.) to provide real-time GPS tracking of individuals who feel they are in danger.

"Businesses of all sizes recognize the need for a mobile strategy," says Steve Signoff, CEO of Illume Mobile, "but businesses are also savvy and know that having a mobile app means more than just checking a box."

Fox Business' Cheryl Casone asks, "Does every business need a mobile app?" Through the innovative mobile technologies being developed and made available by companies such as MacroSolve, it wouldn't make business sense not to take advantage.

About MacroSolve
MacroSolve, Inc., doing business as Illume Mobile, is a pioneer in delivering mobile apps, technologies, and solutions. Leveraging its intellectual property portfolio, MacroSolve enforces its landmark patent while providing mobile app products and services under the name Illume Mobile. MacroSolve is positioned to become a leader in the mobile app development services space, which is projected to become a $100 billion market in 2015 according to Research2Guidance. For more information, visit Illume Mobile at

Safe Harbor Statement
This press release contains projections of future results and other forward-looking statements that involve a number of risks and uncertainties and are made pursuant to the Safe Harbor Provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Important factors that may cause actual results and outcomes to differ materially from those contained in the projections and forward-looking statements included in this press release are described in our publicly filed reports. Factors that could cause these differences include, but are not limited to, the acceptance of our products, lack of revenue growth, failure to realize profitability, inability to raise capital and market conditions that negatively affect the market price of our common stock. The Company disclaims any responsibility to update any forward-looking statements.

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