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Saturday, 26 July 2014

The perfect trader: cold and compassionless?

by Beecher Tuttle
 
Successful traders tend to have very particular personalities. Good ones are compulsive, methodical, intelligent contrarians. Being a great trader, though, that requires you to leave your heart and compassion at home, so says former hedge fund trader Turney Duff.

In an op-ed for CNBC, Duff opines on the learned ability of taking emotion out of trading – way, way, way out of it. To the point that you equate catastrophe with opportunity.

Duff, who lost his millions to drugs and bad investments, details his maturation, if you will, as a trader. In 1999, he was appalled as colleagues digested the news of the Columbine High School massacre by immediately jumping into a discussion on whether they should go long or short on gun stocks.

A half-decade later, as he became a more seasoned trader, Duff focused every minute of every day looking at ways to unlock opportunities in the market as fear of the SARS virus overtook Asia.
“And by being in front of SARS; we got off to a great start and a very profitable year at Argus Partners,” he wrote for CNBC.

Y2K, Hurricane Katrina, the Boston Marathon bombing – they were all opportunities for traders, he says. Duff recalls one unbelievable anecdote where a friend was in Tower 7 when the second plane hit during 9/11. As he ended his phone call to evacuate, his hedge fund client on the other line yelled: “buy oil!” according to Duff.

Emotion, it seems, has no place anywhere near the trading floor.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Offbeat ways the super rich give: Asteriod deflection

Extinction by asteroid probably isn't something that keeps most of us up at night. But it does at the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit set up by several former Silicon Valley execs to track and deflect asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

The group is in the process of raising $200 million to build a telescope that will orbit the sun somewhere near Venus, scanning the solar system for Earth-bound asteroids.

If one is spotted, B612 will try to prevent an impact with our planet. But blowing it up Bruce Willis-style isn't a good idea, said Diane Murphy, a spokeswoman for the organization, as that could simply create smaller -- but still problematic -- asteroids. Instead, the group plans to tug it off course using a spacecraft that would fly alongside the rock and exert gravitational pull.

"It's the first deep space mission for the private sector," said Murphy.


That extramarital affair is costing you a small fortune


Everything is a numbers game—and marital infidelity is no exception.


According to a recent survey, the average affair lasts six months and costs $444 a month, or $2,664 in total. The survey, conducted by a U.K. retail company researching American spending habits, broke down the expenses incurred in a typical fling, such as hotel bills ($123), dinner and drinks ($162), gifts ($54), and date activities (movie tickets, $69, and "other," $36.)

But these estimates may only be the tip of the iceberg. Experts say the cost of an affair is way higher—in fact, the sky's the limit.

 
"Secret cell phones, airline tickets, secret credit cards, hotel rooms—the costs can be astronomical," said Ramani Durvasula, 48, a licensed clinical psychologist. "I know a woman and her lover who would book a hotel room to the tune of $2,500 a week. And keeping a mistress in an apartment—that can run in the hundreds of thousands."

Durvasula believes smartphones and social media have helped contribute to what she says is a shocking rise in marital infidelity.


"We've created the ultimate cheating tools," she said. "Social media is an accelerant. It's like giving children matches to play with. When you think about it, it's downright quaint these days to imagine a mistress calling a man's home and hanging up when his wife answers. Right? Now people can literally cheat on their spouses while lying right next to them in bed."


Durvasula says changes in the rhythm of a relationship—like a spouse who suddenly seems absent or detached, or even overly involved—can be a clue that one partner is straying.

"It's not that hard to tell," she insists. "You don't have to be freakin' Magnum PI."



Or maybe you do. Without hardcore evidence, many suspicious spouses seek the aid of a private investigator—a costly undertaking that usually leads to bad news, as Brad Robinson knows all too well. Robinson, a senior partner at The Millenium Group Private Investigation Agency in West Palm Beach, Florida, says there's no shortage of players in the dicey (and pricey) game of spousal subterfuge.

Robinson said many of his targets are trophy wives ("he's 70, she's 26") or successful businessmen whose privileged status gives them "a sense of invulnerability."


"They think they're smarter than everyone else. They're so used to getting their way," he said. "These guys are constantly co-signing on loans and buying their girlfriends condos. We followed a guy who was taking his girlfriend to five-star steakhouses and taking his wife to Denny's. We watch guys go into jewelry stores and buy expensive jewels that far outshine the trinket the wife got for Christmas."

And expensive dinners and sparkling jewels might not even be the biggest drain on the credit card, said Robinson. Covering one's tracks is a huge factor in calculating the cost of an affair.


"Maybe you feel safer doing it far from prying eyes, but if you travel out of town it's going to cost you $10,000 at least," said Robinson. "We had a case years ago where a man hired us to follow his wife on a "shopping trip" to Paris. The husband paid us for everything—airplane travel, hotels, restaurants. Of course, when we got there, she was doing more than shopping."

Robinson, an ex-CIA operative, and his partner, a former FBI investigator, provide services that include photo surveillance, video surveillance and GPS car tracking. The self-described "Spy Team" also has a forensics specialist on staff to hack the computers of suspected cheaters, and has even been known to hire female decoys.


"A lot of our clients will say, 'I want you to follow him 24/7.' But we charge $100 per man-hour, plus expenses. The first day will cost you $4,800."


So while having an affair is expensive, eluding capture can increase the cost exponentially. And even so, it's all pocket change compared to the price of actually getting caught.

Atlanta-based attorney Randall M. Kessler says infidelity is the top issue in divorce cases, and that the adulterer is usually the one who pays the "worst-case-scenario" price.

 
"[People who have affairs] have nightmares about being on the witness stand and having to recount their conduct," he said. "I've seen people pay a million dollars more than they should have paid, just to avoid the confrontation."

Overpayment to a wronged spouse is also a way to duck the messy aftermath of an affair, says Kessler, whose firm, Kessler & Solomiany LLC, exclusively handles divorce cases.

"A man might wind up paying 75 percent of his income to his ex-wife. It's a way to avoid attorneys, avoid embarrassment and avoid getting the girlfriend involved."


Kessler adds that sometimes a person just wants to do the right thing.


"It's amazing how many people will say, 'just give her the money. I don't want it'."

After all the numbers are added up, however, the experts agree on one thing: The highest cost of infidelity is the emotional one.


"The betrayal of trust is the largest cost of having an affair," maintains Durvasula. "The guilt, the loss of self-esteem, the loss of self-worth—good luck putting dollars and cents on that."
Sheila Hageman, 43, a married writer and mother of three from Stratford, Connecticut, says years of multiple love affairs destroyed her first marriage.


"As a woman, I didn't have to put any money out, but still, the cost to me was incalculable," she recalled. "All the lying, the guilt, knowing I hurt someone I really loved—and still do love—I have to live with that the rest of my life."



Thomas Galiano, a social worker and self-help author who now counsels couples on infidelity, said he was able to repair his marriage after a five-year affair but that he and his wife still bear residual emotional scars.


"You destroy the trust in your marriage," said Gagliano. "Your children learn to keep secrets. They learn a distorted and warped idea of intimacy. At some level, the shame will always eat away at you."


—By Linda Federico-O'Murchu, special to CNBC.com

Friday, 18 April 2014

Six signs you will be rejected when you apply for a job at Goldman Sachs (and how to overcome them)

by Sarah Butcher

It’s not easy to get a job at Goldman Sachs. As we reported earlier this month, the bank rejects 96% of applicants for its analyst (junior) positions and receives 43,000 applications each year. Most applications to ‘the firm’ are clearly wasted, therefore.
How can you establish whether your application to work at Goldman Sachs is destined for electronic annihilation? Before you even bother applying, check yourself against the following points. Any one is likely to be fatal.

1. You think you are God’s gift to banking

Believe it or not, Goldman Sachs likes to hire people who are not big-headed. The people who work there are, “smart and humble” according to one of its MBA recruiters. Lloyd Blankfein himself said last year that Goldman doesn’t like to hire people who are full of themselves or think they deserve to work there. “This is not a place that recruits entitled kids,” said Blankfein.
Instead, it seems that Goldman likes to hire quietly confident types who have overcome a difficult start in life. Curb your self-love. Show that you have achieved things despite, rather than because of your background.

2. You think you want to be an ‘investment banker’

When we spoke to Sarah Harper, Goldman’s head of EMEA recruitment late last year, she said the best applicants to Goldman Sachs are those who have ‘thoroughly researched’ the jobs they’re applying for. It’s no good, therefore, thinking that you want to be an ‘investment banker’ without understanding the derivations of that term (Eg. M&A advisory, equity capital markets, helping junk rated companies to sell debt on public markets).
Before applying, make sure you’ve very clear what you want to do and what it involves. Look at Goldman’s own website and check our Careers in Financial Markets Guide for more information.

3. Your parents filled in your application form with you

As well as looking for people without a sense of entitlement, Harper said Goldman likes to hire ‘self-starters and ‘innovators’. If you’re applying for a graduate job at Goldman Sachs because you’ve been forced into it by your parents, you probably won’t get very far. You’ll need some motivation of your own. It will help if you can demonstrate how motivated you are by pointing to various extra-curricular activities you’ve done and things you’ve achieved without being prompted by anyone else.

4. You prefer to work alone and are not afraid to admit it

Goldman Sachs is all about working together. The culture is one of “teamwork and collaboration” according to Harper. If your application stresses your partiality to solitude and preference for getting things done without the complexities of working with others, you won’t get far. Cut this stuff and emphasize your huge belief in cooperation.

5. You went to a Goldman Sachs recruiting event and said something memorably stupid to a Goldman representative

Like most banks, Goldman tours leading universities to help encourage students to take up financial services careers. Harper told us it’s even possible to secure an interview if you make a strong impression when you meet a Goldman representative on campus. Equally, if you say something memorably stupid or facile to a Goldman representative (“How much money did you make last year?” “What kind of car do you drive?” “Show us your watch,” etc.), your name may be noted and you will be dinged.
Therefore, before you attend any recruiting events, make sure you have some good questions to ask.

6. You’re applying for a trading job and have a degree in history of art

Goldman Sachs hires a lot of people with liberal arts degrees.  The firm itself says that liberal arts graduates constitute the second largest cohort of its employees. However, our own analysis of Goldman hires into from office jobs in London suggests that most new recruits have in fact studied physics, maths or economics and come from universities like UCL, the London School of Economics or Oxford.
If you don’t want to get rejected and you’re a history of art graduate, you may want to take an additional maths qualification, or alter your application to something like human resources…

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Why Hiding Cash at Home is a Huge Mistake



How much cash do you have hidden around your home?

If the answer is more than $100, then you have too much cash in your house.

We all keep a little money on hand for those rare occasions -- like the times you need cash because the neighborhood kid offers to shovel your driveway or mow your lawn. You want to help the enterprising young child but don't want the hassle of driving to an ATM, so you keep some cash around the house. But if you're hiding money in your home because you don't feel it's safe in a bank, you're making a huge mistake.
During the recession, when everyone was panicking because banks were failing, lots of people decided their cash was safer in their home and out of the bank. In reality, that's not true. Here's why:

1. You aren't earning interest on your money.

The best financial reason for not leaving cash at home is that you don't earn any interest on your savings. The interest from a bank may not seem like a lot, especially given low interest rates, but every bit counts.
It's far better to keep your funds tucked away in an Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured bank or credit union where it will earn interest and have the full protection of the FDIC.

Speaking of protection ...

2. You may not be protected if it is stolen or destroyed in the event of a robbery or fire.

Renters and homeowners insurance typically do not have high limits when it comes to protecting the loss or theft of cash within your home. You need to review your policy in order to know what your limit is, but it could be as low as $200.

This means if someone steals your hidden cash, it's most likely gone for good. You won't be reimbursed unless you have a separate rider, which seems silly to pay for just to keep cash in your home.

3. You might accidentally throw it out or leave it behind.

In 2006, a contractor was renovating a bathroom and found $182,000 of Depression-era money in the walls. The moral of the story: Don't hide money in places you won't remember.

It's very easy to forget where you hid your rainy day fund if you are really good at hiding it. The last thing you want to do is forget where it is or accidentally throw it out.

Even if you think you'll remember, someone else find it, or worse, rid of it. In 2009, a woman in Tel Aviv gave her mom a new mattress and threw away the old one. There was just one problem -- the mom had hidden $1 million of her savings inside the old one. Now they just have sad photos of them searching through a dump for the million-dollar mattress.

So do you really need to keep cash at home?
 
What's the reasoning behind keeping cash at home? Do you think you'll need it for some future need? If you can't think of any immediate reason -- in other words, a need within the next week or so -- then it's not necessary to stash cash at home.

If you need the cash to pay someone for something, consider if it's possible to give the individual a personal check or if you can pay by credit card. Those are far safer alternatives than keeping a wad of cash in your drawer.

However, if you really need to keep cash on hand, put it somewhere you'll remember but thieves won't find. Do a quick search online for some clever hiding spots -- though fair warning there are a few repulsive options -- and then find a way to remind yourself that you hid money there.

Goldman Sachs Information, Comments, Opinions and Facts