Archive for ‘General’

November 14, 2011

Telecommuting = Productivity

This surprises me not at all (except that brick & mortar travel agencies still exist).

(via Lifehacker)

August 18, 2011

Green Collar

One of the great advantages of being a knowledge-based professional with a very specific work flow — i.e., a research report is submitted, edited, checked for compliance, returned to author, goes through some back and forth, then signed off and published/distributed — is that I can work from anywhere in the world, in any time zone; my kick-ass laptop and reliable WIFI service are all the “office” I need. It’s not in my nature, nor is it possible to “slack off”; the job is strictly task based: reports must be read and returned in a timely manner, publishing deadlines must be met, administrative data must be kept up-to-date. I’ve been successfully working in this highly efficient and win-win telecommuter manner for the past eight years or so, and I find it incredible that there continues to be debate on the matter.

Just today, LinkedIn featured a story from Fast Company entitled Should You Let Your Employees Work from Home?, a title I find, oh, just slightly condescending, to be as polite as possible about it. And it’s quite amusing because the determining factors all hinge on whether the employee rates this consideration. I believe it would be far more useful to create a similar infographic for management, with questions along the lines of:  “Are you a control freak? micro-manager?” “Do you believe your employees are capable of doing their jobs without your constant supervision?” “If you can’t physically see an employee, do they no longer exist?” “Do you know how to use email? a cellphone? land line? IM? Skype?Webex?” Well, I could go on — and on — but will refrain for the sake of brevity.

Anyhoo … this new infographic came across the wire this afternoon and I thought I’d share it. Not nearly so paternalistic in tone as the FastCompany/Mindflash version and speaks to what I believe are the obvious advantages (to employees, managers, and the environment) of corporations re-tooling their antiquated analog attitudes about “work”.

And for your listening pleasure …

August 17, 2011

My First Company (Store)

Over the past few days I’ve been busy building this e-commerce site for a client. They have branches right across the country and this stand-alone store allows everyone in the company to procure branded items online with ease. The site features a custom selection of products, easily expanded to include new items, is fully operational — shopping to shipping,  and was built using a back-end provided by Volusion.

[Takes a bow.]

This is a great service for any enterprise that wants to provide an endless range of branded products/ stationery/holiday cards, etc., using a platform that operates independently and doesn’t tie up in-house staff with sourcing/inventory/delivery. Companies can incorporate all manner of special coupons or pricing for client gifts or staff incentives.

Very cool.  And I got to brush up on my dusty old HTML skills in the process.

(Not to mention becoming rather too familiar with Canada’s bizarre federal/provincial tax structure. Do you know, for example, that provincial sales tax for the residents of lovely PEI is calculated on top of GST. That’s right! They are are taxed on tax! Quebec too. Come on. How messed up is that?! )

August 16, 2011

Love a Duck

Aside from Time’s endorsement, aside from its respectful privacy policy, aside from a desire to encourage healthy competition with Google, I’m a convert to DuckDuckGo because it provides an instant lorem ipsum page (along with a lot of other cool little quick links) on its tech goodies page. It’s a sweet story, check it out.

The 50 Best Websites of 2011 TIME Specials


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August 13, 2011

Work is what we do …

… rather than a place we go.

The era of the nine-to-five job is over. Even just a few years ago, you were expected to commute to work, put in your hours and drive back home. Once you left work, it was done until you came back into the office the next way.

(via Mashable)

August 9, 2011

Best Practices for Analysts

This book has been highly recommended in a few of the forums I frequent. Haven’t read a copy myself, so can’t recommend first hand, but if buzz is to be had for such a book, this one’s got it.

(Click image to visit Chapters/Indigo page.)

“Jim”s book is an excellent window into the world of securities research. Very few works cover the complete life cycle of an analyst and the necessary balance between theory and practice. This is one of them.” — Juan-Luis Perez, Global Director of Research, Morgan Stanley 

August 6, 2011

PBS Mini-doc on Typography

Type is everywhere. Every print publication, website, movie, advertisement and public message involves the creation or selection of a fitting typeface. Online, a rich and artistic typographical culture exists, where typefaces are created and graphic design seeps in to every image.

Here’s the PBS link.

August 5, 2011

Walking the Talk

Research identifies that many of the problems that occur in an organization are the direct result of poor and/or negative communication. Bad communication leads to confusion or opposition and this leads to failure at many levels.

Full text here. 

August 5, 2011

Envisioning Information

Two books I recommend for every personal library, which held pride of place in mine long before I ventured into the world of finance, Edward Tuft’s “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” and “Envisioning Information”.

Pure loveliness (even if I don’t understand much of the material) and can be compared to the gastro-porn of decadent cookbooks, except with numbers.

See for yourself.

Envisioning Information

The Visual Display of Quantitative Information 

August 5, 2011

And speaking of family businesses …

… if you have one to pass along to the next generation, take heed.  Freakonomics to your succession-planning rescue! Bonus guest speaker: Max Weber.

Article Here

August 5, 2011

Old-timey first dollar in the e-age.

Don’t you love those mom-and-pop variety stores, diners, bodegas, etc., where right there in your line of vision, tacked up on the wall behind the cash register, is a dusty old piece of the local paper currency? Perhaps barely visible, wrapped in yellowing cling film, the owner’s first earned dollar. It speaks to pride in their establishment, represents the stability of the enterprise, and presents us, the customers, with a little corner of continuity and stability in this chaotic world we all share.

So … I have one now — a first dollar in a fashion — and am very proud to hang it on my virtual smoke shop wall. My first mention in the twitter stream!  I am rather thrilled. Also, I must direct your attention to the provider of this kind currency, angrysubeditor, editor of business reports, and self-described as “permanently angry about the abuse of English, maths and logic. Views are [his] own, at least until [he] inserts them into our publications.”  Ta.

August 4, 2011

Plain Speak from the SEC

Often enough it takes all my powers of concentration and a good dose of caffeine to wade through various SEC rulings and other dispatches. (See my earlier post on model-generated quant recs.)

This primer, intended for individual investors, is a refreshing exercise in clear and direct communication.

I also think it should be published into a little booklet and included in every IA’s marketing kit. Handy!

August 4, 2011

Capital on Stage

Has a nice ring to it. Invitation only and mostly Euro and US investors.

Instead of startups pitching to investors, the roles will be reversed. Capital On Stage will see investors presenting themselves to the entrepreneurs.

Capital On Stage takes place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on 14 September 2011.

Would be a great idea to set up something like this in Canada! But instead, using tools of social media to their utmost to not only generate buzz, but also conduct the proceedings! (Before the closed door stuff, obvs.)

August 3, 2011

Skewed Distribution/Convergent Validity

Interesting compilation of what the brainiacs are writing about these days.

There is a respectable presence of Canadians here, but without exception, the writers are all academics. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; and sure, I get it, publish or perish, etc., but how great would it be to see some of our excellent working analysts — the ones who actually toil day-to-day in the field — included in this august list, or elsewhere?

I can think of a couple of sterling contenders right off the bat. Both quant guys, both crazy brilliant …

Wouldn’t it serve the firms that employ them and the industry in general if some actual stakeholders were to publish outside of their client lists?

Just asking.  : )

And if you know of  some examples of “rogue publishing” we should be celebrating, share them in comments.  Ta.

July 28, 2011

The Comma that Caused a Lawsuit

This story was extensively covered at the time and it deserves a permanent home here, a comma cause célèbre. And if you haven’t yet read Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss, I highly recommend it!

Rogers thought it had a five-year deal with Aliant Inc. to string Rogers’ cable lines across thousands of utility poles in the Maritimes for an annual fee of $9.60 per pole. But early last year, Rogers was informed that the contract was being cancelled and the rates were going up. Impossible, Rogers thought, since its contract was iron-clad until the spring of 2007 and could potentially be renewed for another five years.

Armed with the rules of grammar and punctuation, Aliant disagreed. The construction of a single sentence in the 14-page contract allowed the entire deal to be scrapped with only one-year’s notice, the company argued.

Comma Quirk Irks Rogers

July 28, 2011

They’ll Never Know

As editors of written copy and report presentation, our job is to be invisible and help the author shine. Sure, we could let a badly capitalized headline go out and 99% of the readership probably wouldn’t consciously notice. But we notice, and we know the report has more authority when small details like have been corrected.

And therein lies some of the frustration of having a career in financial services in such a role. This business, like any other business, is results oriented. Quantified. But for the multitude of us who work on the support side, making direct sales or getting a client to pay for our efforts isn’t an option. Yet we make a solid contribution to the final product and sometimes, I think, our role is wildly misunderstood, if not outright overlooked.

By ensuring that proper disclosures are in place every single time, we might have saved the company a headache with the regulators and possibly a steep fine. But that’s what they pay us to do, right? We know that.

Or we might have caught a valuation metric that was an anomaly in the comp table, questioned the analyst, and requested some clarification in the text. Or simply done the math and discovered the target wasn’t matching up. This kind of observation and intervention can help the analyst side-step the awkwardness of having the sales desk or a client scratching their heads asking, what the heck? But what’s it worth?

And sure, we might have helped the company avoid a million-dollar lawsuit by rephrasing an analyst’s pro-oil diatribe against an aboriginal leader who was backtracking on development plans … but by the time the report hits the wires, nobody knows we did that. Or really cares.

Or we tweaked a graphic just a few points higher to better position it in the story, maybe cropped out some extraneous noise, changed a font style/size, searched a source on the web. All important details, all contributing to the polished look of the finished project, perhaps even helping build an analyst’s ranking, yet all necessarily covert.

These little details matter A LOT to us, even if we know that few end-users consciously notice or even realize at all that deliberate thought has been put into every.single.thing. And sure, stuff can slip past our notice as well … but the dread upon realizing that has happened is — whew — at least somewhat mitigated in this day and age by the ease of making a correction and reposting the file. Nobody dies, right? so try to keep some perspective will ya?! : )

I guess this ramble is all by way of saying, keep the faith fellow editors. What we do matters, even if it’s invisible!

July 28, 2011


George Orwell : Politics and the English Language

 Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes.

July 28, 2011

Manna from Mentors

During my storied career in the financial services business, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked for some excellent bosses who, it turns out, operated more like mentors. Sherry Cooper of BMO Nesbitt Burns, Rick Behnke at Scotia Capital, and Mike Binette at Blackmont Capital are three who stand out.

Each had very exacting standards and each offered constructive criticism quite freely and, I daresay, often. Yet without exception, each recognized and  rewarded dedication to the job, even if the employee in question (me) was less than perfect in executing every required task.

The benefits of working for these intense individuals far outweigh any stress that might be associated with trying (and sometimes failing) to meet their high  expectations. This, in my estimation, is healthy stress, i.e., it is motivational in nature versus the soul-sucking, nerve-wracking stress that can be generated from working for a bad boss … but that’s another post for another day.

With a demanding-but-fair boss/mentor, you can’t help but learn, correct, learn, correct, and learn under their guidance. What makes a manager/mentor particularly effective is the incredible balance they are able to maintain between discipline and encouragement. While I may have been on the receiving end of their disappointment on more than one occasion, I was also fortunate to be in their continuous supportive employ until my career path or theirs directed us elsewhere.

The experience of learning every day, enjoying a sense of accomplishment every day, and yes, shaking my head sometimes at how goddamn demanding they were everyday (!), has served me well and I am indebted to each of them for nudging me along, more or less forcefully.

July 22, 2011

What to do about Quantitative Analysis?

If a quantitative analyst runs a MACD indicator and gets a bullish signal, is that the same as a fundamental analyst making a buy recommendation?

See what FINRA has to say about it:

July 22, 2011


Hello gentle reader!

In this blog, I intend to provide some tips and tricks related to financial research in the equity and fixed income markets. As well, I hope to discuss issues and concerns I’ve encountered while working in the business for (omg) the past quarter of a century!

My hope is to provide an active resource and meeting place for other supervisory analysts, research editors, and print production professionals — or anyone in the financial services business who might be looking for some great ideas or guidance related to high quality research.

That’s it for now … stay tuned!


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