Archive for January 2017

Me, HEC and Research 2B



One of the many good things about working as a Finance lecturer at Queen’s Management School is the opportunity to research overseas.  As a senior research associate of the International Research Centre for Cooperative Finance (IRCCF) at HEC Montreal,  I have the pleasure of visiting this eclectic bilingual city each year. Over the academic year I have two visits as part of my sabbatical leave.  The visits are centred around three exciting projects:

  1. Banking Business Model (BBM) diversity and financial sustainability.
  2. Cooperative Traits of Mergers.
  3. Systemic Risk and Basel Regulatory Compliance.

This research hopes to provide evidence that enlightens the following research puzzles:

  1. What business model features have engendered resilience in the Canadian financial system ?
  2. Do credit union mergers enshrine membership benefits?
  3. How does compliance core Basel Banking Supervision Committee standards affect systemic risk in developed economies?

Projects 1 and 2 are Canada focused while project 3 takes a global approach.  Each of these projects pose very different quantitative challenges which I relish as an card-carrying empiricist.

In project 1 we are using a data clustering approach to identify distinct business models based on an institution’s funding and activities.  This model-free approach reveals the BBM diversity in the Canadian sector over the period 2010-2015.  Following the seminal work on BBM global monitors by my co-author Professor Rym Ayadi  (Director of the IRCCF) in Ayadi et al (2011 2014, 2015 and 2016)1 this exercise will illustrate the unique architecture of the Canadian financial services industry and shed light on factors that promote resilience to globally systemic banking problems.

Project 2 uses a proprietary data set from Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO) to investigate 20 years of consolidation in this region’s credit unions. The analysis will use a flexible model which captures the uniquely cooperative objective of membership benefit maximisation. The project will empirically expose the cooperative traits of mergers/amalgamations in credit unions and hopes to reveal the nature of the membership value of such activity.

Finally, project 3 is a global exercise which uses a number of quantitative measures to capture systemic risk of a bank and relate it to the regulatory compliance of the system within which the bank operates.  We have used a large slice of data science to compile a unique sample representing global banking and its regulatory infrastructure.  Our key variable measures the compliance of a financial system with the principles of regulatory best practice proposed by the Basel Committee for Banking supervision.

In short I have my work cut out!  Watch this space for some interesting preliminary results from these projects.

  1. Ayadi, R., Arbak, E. & Pieter De Groen, W., 2011. Business Models in European Banking: A Pre-and Post-Crisis Screening. Centre for European Policy Studies.

    Ayadi, R. & DeGreon, W.P., 2014. Banking Business Models Monitor 2014 Europe. Centre for European Policy Studies.

    Ayadi, R., Arbak, M. & GreonWP, D., 2015. Regulations of European Banks and Business Models: Towards a new paradigm.Centre for European Policy Studies.

    Ayadi, R. & De Groen, W.P., 2016. Bank Business Model Monitor for Europe 2015. International Research Center for Cooperative Finance.

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Surf meets Business: the importance of teamwork and how to build an effective team


As Michael Jordan famously said: ‘Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships’; teamwork is crucial for sports and businesses alike. Even surfing, although typically considered an individual sport, heavily relies on a high performing team.

Tom Butler, Nine Feet Tall’s sponsored professional big wave surfer is well aware of that as he benefits from a top-notch support system. Tom knows that when he is out there charging down on forty-foot waves, his team is fully behind him, supporting and cheering him on, and he would not have come this far without their support.

Similarly, when embarking on an ambitious project, project managers should recognise the value and importance of an outstanding team. Having a strong team of individuals who can work together to achieve a common goal may sound obvious, but is often overlooked and thus many business projects are set back due to poor team culture.

Here at Nine Feet Tall we place great value on teamwork and below are a few tips we have learned along the way that we think can help any team get off to a flying start.

Trust your team

High performing teams are built upon mutual level of trust; it is arguably the most important factor which differentiates an effective team from a collection of individuals working on the same project.  As a project manager, it’s easy to get caught up in detail and take too much responsibility. However, it’s in the best interest of the project to trust your project team to lead in their work stream. What is more, trusting your team will also increase the team members’ accountability. We all experience dips of motivation from time to time, but the fear of letting down the rest of the team helps us keep up performance on days when we do not feel our best.

As a professional big wave surfer, Tom knows he would be unable to reach his potential without trusting his team to deliver. The most important thing for Tom in the water is his surfboard; and there is a long, complex process behind building the perfect surfboard. Design, shape, fin placement, fiberglass coverage are just a few stages in the production line at Fourth Surfboards. It would take at least six different people to deliver the project. From the building of his surfboard, to the competition team (jet ski safety driver, jet ski mechanic, spotter with radio, photographer, lifeguards, emergency services, contest director, media team, live webcast satellites, commentators) they all have a crucial role to play and trust each other to do their best. Likewise, they motivate Tom to do his best and push himself a little harder even when he feels at his lowest.

People work in different ways, some like focusing on detail, while others see the bigger picture, some are motivated by results, others by process; some are analytical thinkers and others creative. Distributing the work appropriately amongst the team members is a crucial part of building a high performing, motivated team.

Moreover, it is important to get to know what makes people tick, what inspires them and what makes them passionate about what they do. For Tom, remembering what drives his team mates and recognising the unique individual qualities they bring to the table, keeps his team motivated and pumped for what’s to come. Knowing your team and how to inspire them will ensure high morale and boost motivation even when the project is challenging or slips behind schedule.

Motivate your team

Setbacks are an almost invariable part of competitive sports and business. When they occur, it is important to keep you team focused on the final goal. Bring the whole team together, discuss mutually- agreed objectives and set appropriate time-frame. Make sure everyone knows what is expected of them and is aligned with the discussed objectives to make sure everyone is moving in the same direction.

Irena Nemchova – As Business Relations Coordinator, Irena  is responsible for managing communications with our current and prospective clients.  She coordinates client activity and works closely with our consultants and account managers to highlight trends, provide insight and promote shared learning.

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‘Clear’ tax avoidance guidance for advisers issued by institutes


UPDATED GUIDANCE on the standards expected of tax advisers and agents have been published by leading UK accountancy and tax bodies.

The guidance has been endorsed by HMRC and sets out clear professional standards in relation to the facilitation and promotion of tax avoidance.

The CIOT, ATT, AAT, ACCA, ICAEW, ICAS and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners have circulated the information. Know formally as the Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation (PCRT), the guidance has been updated regularly in its 20 years’ existence.

The seven bodies said in a joint statement: “We believe these new standards achieve an appropriate balance, making clear that tax avoidance schemes and bad behaviour is not acceptable, while enabling many advisers to continue undertaking responsible tax planning to make sure their clients pay the right amount of tax. We hope that those tax advisers and agents outside of the seven PCRT bodies will also commit themselves to following this code.”

The guidance is based on five fundamental principles; integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality, and professional behaviour. It sets out the high ethical standards between the tax adviser, client and HMRC and supports the role of its members. HMRC had recently claimed it would give tougher sanctions to those guilty of tax avoidance.

The professional bodies have strengthened the existing principles with five new tax planning standards for this latest update. These include a clear standard that members “must not create, encourage or promote tax planning arrangements or structures that (i) set out to achieve results contrary to the clear intention of Parliament in enacting relevant legislation, and/or (ii) are highly artificial or highly contrived and seek to exploit shortcomings within the relevant legislation.”

A member of one of the bodies would be open to disciplinary action if not adhering to these standards. This can be compared to last year as the ICAEW confirmed they had yet to discipline any members for tax avoidance scheme advice.

The added standards respond to the challenge from the government from March 2015 to enforce clearer standards around tax avoidance.

The joint statement concluded: “PCRT has long set out professional and ethical standards which require more of the members of professional bodies than the letter of the law demands. Our rules have long recognised the duty of professionals to clients and society, for example in requiring the correction of HMRC errors. However, social expectations of behaviour in relation to tax planning have evolved recently. Professional obligations to act with integrity and uphold the reputation of the profession would not be met if our rules did not also change to recognise this.”

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Find Christmas ‘gift experiences’ for all the family with Bark


If you’re still agonising over finding the perfect gifts for your friends and family, we want to let you in on a secret: studies show that experiences make far better gifts than things.

It may sound counterintuitive at first, but the simple fact is people value experiences more highly than objects. We get excited when we’re looking forward to them, we love reminiscing about them – and we get more value out of them compared to traditional gifts.

So forget spending hours searching through crowded shopping centres for things to buy your friends and family – and take a look the thoughtful “gift experiences” you can find right here on Bark.


Surprise your other half with a luxury spa treatment

Spa treatments like manicures, massages and aromatherapy sessions are the classic ‘experience’ gifts for lovers and spouses. Everyone loves getting pampered after the hectic festive season, making these treatments great for winning brownie points from your other half.

So whether you want to receive a professional massage in the comfort of your own home, or book a luxury afternoon at a local spa – place your Bark today to get quotes from local masseurs fast and free.

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Keep your kids fit and healthy with martial arts classes

If you’re looking for a way to encourage your kids to take more physical exercise, martial arts classes could be for you.

Unlike most team sports, martial arts are easy to practice independently – and group classes provide a great opportunity for your child to get out and meet new friends.

Better yet the popularity of martial arts movie franchises like Karate Kid and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles means your child is sure to love unwrapping their brand new martial arts uniform on Christmas day.

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Try yoga classes for the fitness fanatic in the family

The practice of yoga has been helping people of all ages finesse their mind, body and soul for over 5,000 years. It’s the perfect for building flexibility, toning your body and de-stressing after a long week at work.

With a range of types to choose from depending on your strength, conditioning and spiritual goals – there’s a yoga style out there for everyone. So place your Bark now to find yoga classes in your area get quotes from local instructors fast and free.

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Treat yourself to a makeover at your local beauty salon

They say Christmas is about the giving, not the receiving. But that doesn’t mean you can’t give yourself a little something as a reward for getting the shopping out of the way!

Why not treat yourself to a spray tan, gel pedicure and facial to unwind after the hectic Christmas shopping gauntlet. Click the link below now and book yourself in at a top local beauty salon so you can look your best throughout the holiday season.

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